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The economic impact and cost of visual impairment in Australia

Abstract

Aims: To quantify the total economic costs of vision loss in Australia.

Methods: Prevalence data of visual impairment, unpublished data on indirect costs, and national healthcare cost databases were used.

Results: Vision disorders cost Australia an estimated A$9.85 billion in 2004. A$4.8 billion is the loss of wellbeing (years of life lost as a result of disability and premature mortality). Vision disorders rank seventh and account for 2.7% of the national loss of wellbeing. Direct health system costs total A$1.8 billion. They have increased by A$1 billion over the last 10 years and will increase a further A$1–2 billion in the next 10 years. Cataract, the largest direct cost, takes 18% of expenditure. The health system costs place vision disorders seventh, ahead of coronary heart disease, diabetes, depression, and stroke. Indirect costs, A$3.2 billion, include carers’ costs, low vision aids, lost earnings, and other welfare payments and taxes.

Conclusions: Even a developed economy such as Australia’s cannot afford avoidable vision loss. Priority needs to be given to prevent preventable vision loss; to treat treatable eye diseases; and to increase research into vision loss that can be neither prevented nor treated.

  • AIHW, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • DALY, disability adjusted life years
  • DCIS, Disease Costs and Impact Study
  • DWLs, dead weight losses
  • NCHPE, National Centre for Health Program Evaluation
  • NPV, net present value
  • QALY, quality adjusted life year
  • YLL, years of life lost as a result of premature death
  • YLD, years of healthy life lost as a result of disability
  • visual impairment
  • Australia
  • AIHW, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • DALY, disability adjusted life years
  • DCIS, Disease Costs and Impact Study
  • DWLs, dead weight losses
  • NCHPE, National Centre for Health Program Evaluation
  • NPV, net present value
  • QALY, quality adjusted life year
  • YLL, years of life lost as a result of premature death
  • YLD, years of healthy life lost as a result of disability
  • visual impairment
  • Australia
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