Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of screening for open-angle glaucoma (OAG) in the United Kingdom, given that OAG is an important cause of blindness worldwide.
Methods: A Markov model was developed to estimate lifetime costs and benefits of a cohort of patients facing, alternatively, screening or current opportunistic case finding strategies. Strategies, varying in how screening would be organized (e.g., invitation for assessment by a glaucoma-trained optometrist [GO] or for simple test assessment by a technician) were developed, and allowed for the progression of OAG and treatment effects. Data inputs were obtained from systematic reviews. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed.
Results: Screening was more likely to be cost-effective as prevalence increased, for 40 year olds compared with 60 or 75 year olds, when the re-screening interval was greater (10 years), and for the technician strategy compared with the GO strategy. For each age cohort and at prevalence levels of < or =1 percent, the likelihood that either screening strategy would be more cost-effective than current practice was small. For those 40 years of age, "technician screening" compared with current practice has an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) that society might be willing to pay when prevalence is 6 percent to 10 percent and at over 10 percent for 60 year olds. In the United Kingdom, the age specific prevalence of OAG is much lower. Screening by GO, at any age or prevalence level, was not associated with an ICER < pound 30,000.
Conclusions: Population screening for OAG is unlikely to be cost-effective but could be for specific subgroups at higher risk.