The cost of vision loss in Canada. 2. Results

Can J Ophthalmol. 2011 Aug;46(4):315-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjo.2011.06.006. Epub 2011 Jul 7.


Objective: This study was conducted to provide the financial underpinnings necessary for effective planning for the provision of eye health services in Canada. Canada is facing an aging demographic and all the major eye diseases are diseases associated with aging. It is essential that we have information based on the best available data to support national and provincial vision health plans.

Design: The design associated with the prevalence-based approach used in this study was outlined previously in detail in The Cost of Vision Loss in Canada: Methodology.

Methods: The methods associated with the prevalence-based approach used in this study were previously outlined in detail in The Cost of Vision Loss in Canada: Methodology.

Results: The financial cost of VL in Canada in 2007 was estimated to be $15.8 billion per annum: $8.6 billion (54.6%) represents direct health system expenditure; $4.4 billion (28.0%) was productivity lost due to lower employment, higher absenteeism, and premature death of Canadians with VL; $1.8 billion (11.1%) was the dead weight losses (DWL) from transfers including welfare payments and taxation forgone; $0.7 billion (4.4%) was the value of the care for people with VL; $305 million (1.9%) was other indirect costs such as aids and home modifications and the bring forward of funeral costs. Additionally, the value of the lost well-being (disability and premature death) was estimated at a further $11.7 billion. In per capita terms, this amounts to a financial cost of $19370 per person with VL per annum. Including the value of lost well-being, the cost is $33704 per person per annum.

Conclusions: There is a growing awareness in Canada and around the world of the impact of VL on health costs and on the economy in general. This awareness is supported by the growing number of independent studies on the cost of vision loss both nationally and globally. Because most of these studies are limited by the minimal amount of available data, the overall cost of vision loss is likely underestimated. Nevertheless, this study reports the cost of vision loss in Canada as being greater than previously reported, making the problem even more urgent to address. A comprehensive national vision health plan, that is a coordinated federal, provincial and territorial initiative dealing with all aspects of vision loss prevention, sight restoration, and vision rehabilitation is called for.

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / economics*
  • Blindness / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cataract / epidemiology
  • Cost of Illness
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / epidemiology
  • Glaucoma / epidemiology
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Refractive Errors / epidemiology
  • Vision, Low / economics*
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology