Background: The aims of our study were to describe the costs associated with diabetic retinopathy (DR), and to evaluate its economic impact in Germany.
Methods: Forty-one German ophthalmologists, randomly selected from a physicians' database in Germany, provided information on adult Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic patients with DR (n = 207). This information included socio-demographics, clinical characteristics and resource use during the year 2002. National-level cost estimates were calculated, based on these results and the prevalence data on DR in Germany.
Results: This study found that costs associated with DR tend to increase as DR progresses, being highest in patients with proliferative DR and lowest in patients with mild, non-proliferative DR. The German statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV) covered two-thirds of the total costs paid by all the payers. The total cost of DR from a societal perspective was calculated at 3.51 euros bn for the year 2002, and from the GKV perspective amounted to 2.23 euros bn.
Conclusions: This study is the first comprehensive study to provide estimates of costs associated with DR in Germany. These costs were estimated to account for approximately 1.5% of the total health-care expenditure in 2002.