Vision impairment can have wide-ranging economic impacts on individuals, households, and health systems. The aim of this systematic review was to describe and summarise the costs associated with vision impairment and its major causes. The study includes 138 studies, which provide 155 regional cost estimates. The average quality assessment score for included studies is 78% (range 35–100%) and the most common weaknesses are the lack of sensitivity analysis and insufficient disaggregation of costs.
Large variations in methodology and reporting across studies meant cost estimates vary considerably. Average treatment costs per patient for most conditions, including refractive error correction, range from $12 to $201 (adjusted for purchasing power parity), cataract surgery costs range from $54 to $3654 (ppp), glaucoma treatment from $351 to $1354 (ppp) and age-related macular degeneration treatment from $2209 to $7524 (ppp).
Future cost estimates of the economic burden of vision impairment and its major causes will be improved by the development and adoption of a standard reference document for costing eye health, which would increase the quality of cost estimates and support better decision-making.