Objectives: To determine the personal out-of-pocket costs of visual impairment and to examine the expenditure pattern related to eye diseases and the severity of visual impairment.
Methods: This prospective cohort study recruited participants of any age who were able to converse in English and had presenting visual acuity (VA) of < 6/12. Participants completed cost diaries regarding their daily personal vision-related expenditure. These were grouped under four categories: 1) medicines, products and equipment, 2) health and community services, 3) informal care and support and 4) other expenses. Socio-demographic and clinical data were also collected.
Results: In 2003 150 participants, aged between 10 and 93 years old, were recruited. The median and mean total costs of visual impairment was Australian Dollars (AUD)$2416 and $3376, respectively (mode = AUD$2001-3000, SD +/- AUD$3050, Range AUD$7-$18610). Adjusting for age, there was no effect for severity of visual impairment (mild, moderate or severe) or type of eye diseases on the annual total personal out-of-pocket costs of visual impairment (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: Regardless of the type of eye diseases and the severity of visual loss, visual impairment posed a significant financial burden to both the individual and society.