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The Cost Of Visual Disorders In The US Economy

Visual Disorders Affect the Economy Are visual disorders among older Americans costing the economy money? According to an article published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, visual disorders in people over 40 may cost the US more than $35 billion every year.

Millions of peoples suffer some form of visual impairment as they age, from moderate to severe. Eye diseases become more common as people age. Among the more common visual disturbances experienced by older citizens include:

The costs associated with correcting these disorders are direct including the costs associated with performing corrective procedures, and indirect including the costs of caring for someone post surgery. Other indirect costs include losses in productivity experienced in business when worker are not able to work due to visual impairments, or when they become forced to take lower paying jobs because of poor vision.

A 2004 study analyzing the financial impact of eye diseases suggest that the U.S. spends more than 16 billion dollars in direct medical costs associated with visual disturbances every year and another $11 billion in direct costs associated with medical care. The costs associated with losses in productivity in the workplace average about $8 billion.

Costs By Diseases
The study goes further to break down the direct medical costs associated with some of the more common age related diseases affecting consumers. Here is a list of the costs of each disease.

  • $6+ billion for cataracts and related surgeries.
  • $5+ billion for corrections for refractive errors.
  • $3 billion for treating glaucoma.
  • $490+ million for treating diabetic retinopathy
  • $500+ million for treating age related macular degenerations
As the population within the United States continues to grow older, these costs will likely rise, placing an increasing burden on insurance carriers and health professionals tasked with caring for patients. Productivity losses will also have a serious impact on the economy if not addressed properly.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Fortunately the good news is technology continues to provide new and better procedures for treating many of the conditions listed above. Technological advancements are capable of correcting many visual impairments that in the past may have led to blindness. Key to the success of treatments will include educating physicians in their use, and educating patients about their treatment choices. For those that do not have adequate insurance, financing is available to help get them the care they need to correct serious visual disturbances.

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