An estimation of the worldwide economic and health burden of visual impairment

Adam Gordois, Henry Cutler, Lynne Pezzullo, Keith Gordon*, Alan Cruess, Steve Winyard, Wanda Hamilton, Kathleen Chua

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to provide a rigorous estimate of the worldwide costs of visual impairment (VI), and the associated health burden. The study used a prevalence-based model. Prevalence rates for mild VI (visual acuity (VA) worse than 6/12 but not worse than 6/18), moderate VI (VA worse than 6/18 but not worse than 6/60) and blindness (VA worse than 6/60) were applied to population forecasts for each World Health Organisation (WHO) subregion. The limited available country cost data were extrapolated between subregions using economic and population health indicators. Age and gender subgroup population numbers were derived from United Nations' data. Costs and the health burden of VI were estimated for each world subregion using published disease prevalence rates, health care expenditures and other economic data. The study includes direct health care costs, indirect costs and the health burden of VI. The total cost of VI globally was estimated at $3 trillion in 2010, of which $2.3 trillion was direct health costs. This burden is projected to increase by approximately 20% by 2020. VI is associated with a considerable disease burden. Unless steps are taken to reduce prevalence through prevention and treatment, this burden will increase alongside global population growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-481
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • burden of illness
  • cost analysis
  • epidemiology
  • prevalence
  • vision loss


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