Medical Costs by Disorder

Refractive error is the most expensive eye or vision condition at $16.1 billion per year. At $10.7bn, cataracts are the second costliest disorder and the most expensive medical diagnosis. Vision problems total $10.4bn, and include undiagnosed low vision ($3bn), diagnosed blindness or low vision ($3.8bn), and visual disturbances ($3.6bn), which include conditions such as amblyopia. The next costliest conditions are physical disorders totaling $8.9bn, which include conjunctivitis and disorders of the eyelids and lacrimal system ($4.6bn), disorders of the globe ($2.4bn), injuries and burns to the eye ($1.3bn), and strabismus ($0.6bn). Retinal disorders total $8.7bn. Due to limitations in diagnosis codes, the MEPS data cannot distinguish major retinal disorders including age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. We can however approximate these diagnoses by separately estimating the costs of any retinal disorder among persons with and without diabetes. Doing so reveals that the cost of retinal disorders among persons without diabetes is $4.6bn while the cost of retinal disorders for persons with diabetes is nearly as high at $4.1bn. Glaucoma and disorders of the optic nerve cost $5.8bn.

Figure 6 Medical costs by disorder group

Click on the chart or table items to highlight data.

Disorder Group Costs in billions
Refractive Error 16.1
Other Disorders 4.5
Glaucoma 5.8
Physical Disorders 8.9
Retinal Disorders 8.7
Vision Problems 10.4
Cataracts 10.7