The cost of glaucoma care: Small group of patients accounts for large part of costs

September 18, 2012

A small subset of patients with open-angle glaucoma (OAG) account for a large proportion of all glaucoma-related charges in the United States, according to new data published by researchers at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center and Washington University, St. Louis.

These findings have importance for future evaluations of the cost-effectiveness of screening and treatment for glaucoma.

"We've identified associated with patients who are the costliest recipients of glaucoma-related ," says Joshua D. Stein, M.D., M.S., glaucoma specialist at Kellogg. "Among these factors are younger age, living in the northeastern United States, undergoing , and having other eye conditions. Understanding the characteristics of these individuals and finding ways to reduce disease burden and costs associated with their care can result in substantial cost savings."

The study, published in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, reviewed claims data from 19,927 patients with newly diagnosed OAG who were enrolled in a large U.S. managed care network.

The researchers identified glaucoma-related charges for all such patients from 2001 through 2009. They found that the costliest 5 percent of enrollees were responsible for $10,202,871, or 24 percent, of all glaucoma-related charges. They also found that glaucoma patients generally consume the greatest relative share of resources during their first six months of care after diagnosis.

"Although there have been several studies examining the cost of caring for patients with glaucoma, most have been based on individuals who have already been diagnosed, and few have examined changes in cost of care over time," says Stein. "In this investigation, we examined two questions: What is the pattern of resource use for patients with OAG during the first seven years after disease onset, and what are the characteristics of those patients who have the greatest glaucoma-related resource use."

A chronic, progressive, incurable disease that affects more than 2 million individuals in the United States and many more worldwide, OAG is the most common cause of blindness among African Americans. OAG is the most common form of glaucoma in the United States. Caring for with OAG in the carries a total societal cost estimated at nearly $1 billion annually.

"Developing an understanding of the resource use of people with glaucoma and identifying those expected to have the largest resource use is important in a resource-constrained health care environment," says Stein. "Further, by collecting longitudinal information on resource use we can better quantify the value of slowing progression through various interventions."

Explore further: Study focuses on relationship between glaucoma and diabetes, hypertension

More information: Longitudinal Trends in Resource Use in an Incident Cohort of Open-Angle Glaucoma Patients: Resource Use in Open-Angle Glaucoma. American Journal of Ophthalmology, September, 2012.

Related Stories

Study focuses on relationship between glaucoma and diabetes, hypertension

August 17, 2011
Many Americans suffer from diabetes and hypertension and, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, these individuals may have an increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma ...

Detecting glaucoma before it blinds

October 6, 2011
Early detection and diagnosis of open angle glaucoma important so that treatment can be used in the early stages of the disease developing to prevent or avoid further vision loss. Writing in a forthcoming issue of the International ...

Routine glaucoma screening program may benefit middle-age African-American patients

March 12, 2012
Implementing a routine national glaucoma screening program for middle-age African American patients may be clinically effective; however its potential effect on reducing visual impairment and blindness may be modest, according ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals biological mechanism of a leading cause of childhood blindness

November 16, 2017
Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) have revealed the pathology of cells and structures stricken by optic nerve hypoplasia, a leading cause of childhood blindness in developed nations.

Genetic treatment for blindness may soon be reality

November 11, 2017
Patients who had lost their sight to an inherited retinal disease could see well enough to navigate a maze after being treated with a new gene therapy, according to research presented today at AAO 2017, the 121st Annual Meeting ...

Study finds donor corneas can be safely preserved for longer period

November 10, 2017
Results from a large, national clinical trial show that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days without negatively impacting the success of transplantation surgery to restore vision in people with diseases of ...

Exploring the genetics of glaucoma and retinal development

November 10, 2017
Guillermo Oliver, PhD, the Thomas D. Spies Professor of Lymphatic Metabolism, recently published two studies related to the eye, one on retinal formation and the other on the genetics behind glaucoma.

Scientists discover potential treatment to stop glaucoma in its tracks

November 6, 2017
Vision scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto have discovered that naturally occurring molecules known as lipid mediators have the potential to halt the progression of glaucoma, ...

New focus on correcting refractive vision

October 25, 2017
While doctors take delight in solving the common issue of refractive vision error by prescribing eye glasses, Flinders University researchers have found that many patients are upset with this solution and claim it affects ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.