Over 13 years, cataract surgery yields a 4,567 per cent financial return on investment to society, according to a cost-utility study conducted in the US by researchers from the Center for Value-Based Medicine. The study was published in the Academy’s official journal, Ophthalmology.
The researchers found that each cataract surgery on a single eye, which costs an average of US$2,653, would save $121,198. Cataract surgeries performed over one year in the United States eventually save $123.4 billion over 13 years.
Most savings were made in patient and Medicare expenses which accounted for 39.4 per cent and 29.5 per cent, respectively. Other gains included employment/productivity (20.6 per cent), Medicaid (2.7 per cent) and other insurers (7.8 per cent).
In terms of the patient value, the researchers found that cataract surgery yields an overall 36.2 per cent gain in quality of life when performed in both eyes. Without cataract surgery, cataract-related vision loss can become so bad that individuals lose their independence in a variety of ways, such as being able to drive, read their mail, keep up their home and administer their medications.
the findings reinforce that the cost of cataract surgery should be viewed as a valuable investment in healthcare
Ophthalmologist Professor Gerard Sutton, from the Save Sight Institute at Sydney University, said the findings reinforce that the cost of cataract surgery should be viewed as a valuable investment in healthcare.
“Keeping people in the workforce or simply able to look after themselves means a more independent and prosperous society. Not to mention one in which more people are able to fully experience all life has to offer.
“Extrapolating this study to other geographical areas and health systems may be problematic but it is not difficult to imagine how cataract surgery in developing countries returns handsome dividends for society,” said Professor Sutton.
“Cataract surgery is one of the, if not the most successful operation in the world. Recently the Australian Government considered reducing the Medicare rebate, which has in real terms shrunk dramatically since it was first introduced. Operations such as cataract surgery should not be valued by the time taken to perform it but by the expertise required (some 13 years in the making) and the impact it has on society. This article supports this ‘value’ proposition”