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Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2003 Dec;31(6):522-9.

Measurement of the economic impact of visual impairment from age-related macular degeneration in Australia.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, Hawkenbury Road, Westmead, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia.


The purpose of this report was to: (i) outline the potential value of health economic studies into age-related macular degeneration (AMD); (ii) provide an overview of health economic studies pertinent to AMD; and (iii) outline the basic frame work of cost-of-illness studies (a useful first step in applying economic methods). The detection and management of sensory loss in the elderly plays a key role in the Australian Government's Healthy Ageing Strategy. Age-related macular degeneration is currently the leading cause of blindness in elderly Australians. Although a large proportion of AMD cases remain untreatable, the introduction of photo-dynamic therapy provides a relatively expensive and possibly cost-effective innovation for others. Antioxidant therapy has also been proven effective in reducing progression of early to late disease. The discipline of economics can contribute to an understanding of AMD prevention and treatment through: (i) describing the current burden of disease; (ii) predicting the changes in the burden of disease over time, and (iii) evaluating the efficiency of different interventions. Cost-of-illness studies have been performed in many fields of medicine. Little work, however, has been done on describing the economic impact from AMD. A number of different economic evaluation methods can be used in judging the efficiency of possible interventions to reduce the disease burden of AMD. Although complementary in nature, each has specific uses and limitations. Studies of the economic impact of eye diseases are both feasible and necessary for informed health care decision-making.

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