Objective: To estimate the population health effects, costs and cost effectiveness of selected cataract surgery interventions in areas of the world with different epidemiological profiles.
Methods: Effectiveness estimates are based on a review of the literature taking into account factors such as operative failure, complications and patient non-compliance. A population model was applied to follow the lifelong impact on individuals having cataract surgery. Costing estimates are based on primary data collected in 14 epidemiological subregions by regional costing teams and on a literature review. Costings were estimated for different geographical coverage levels using non-linear cost functions.
Findings: Intra- and extra-capsular cataract surgeries are cost-effective ways to reduce the impact of cataract-blindness. Extra-capsular cataract surgery is more cost-effective than intra-capsular surgery in all regions considered. Providing extra-capsular cataract surgery to 95% of those who need it (95% coverage level) would avert over 3.5 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) per year globally. The cost-effectiveness ranges from 57 International dollars (1 dollar) per DALY in the WHO South-East Asia Region where there is high overall child and adult mortality to 1 dollar 2307 per DALY in the WHO Western Pacific Region where there is low overall child and adult mortality.
Conclusion: Extra-capsular surgery for cataracts at a high level of coverage is the most cost-effective way of restoring sight in all epidemiological subregions considered. Analysts from countries within a region are encouraged to further contextualize the results based on their own country's specific parameters.