Objectives: To estimate the annual cost associated with the management of dry eye patients by ophthalmologists in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK) from the perspective of the healthcare systems in the respective countries.
Methods: Published epidemiological and healthcare resource use data attributable to dry eye syndrome was supplemented with information obtained from interviewing ophthalmologists in the six countries.
Results: The estimated prevalence of dry eye syndrome among patients reporting to ophthalmologists was less than 0.1% in all six countries. The total annual healthcare cost of 1,000 dry eye syndrome sufferers managed by ophthalmologists ranged from 0.27 million US dollars (95% CI: 0.20 US dollars; 0.38 million US dollars) in France to 1.10 million US dollars (95% CI: 0.70 US dollars; 1.50 million US dollars) in the UK. A large proportion of dry eye patients either self-treat or are managed by their general practitioner. Hence, our analysis reflects the prevalence and costs of those patients severe enough to warrant treatment by an ophthalmologist.
Conclusions: Given the limitations of the available economic evidence and our data sources, dry eye syndrome does not appear to impose a direct burden to the health care expenditure in the countries investigated. However, given that many dry eye sufferers self-treat with over-the-counter artificial tears and other medications, data which our study did not capture, the true societal costs of dry eye syndrome, borne by both patient and government, are likely to be higher.