Researchers aim for consensus on measuring the impact of visual impairment

Apr 01, 2010

New guidelines that outline best practices for measuring the economic burden of visual impairment will make it easier for the policy, science and medical communities to draw conclusions and compare results across studies.

The guidelines arose from a working group convened by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). They were published this month in the ARVO journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (The Cost of Visual Impairment: Purpose, Perspectives, and Guidance).

The group, representing participants from around the world and from major vision research organizations, came together to review the methods used in two US studies and one Australian study and to develop a consensus on appropriate methods to employ in future studies on the cost of vision impairment regardless of where they are conducted.

"When estimates of the cost of visual impairment vary over time or across countries," explains Johns Hopkins University researcher Kevin Frick, PhD, the lead author, "policy makers are left to ponder whether one estimate differs from another because of changes in the population, changes in the impact of the disease or changes in the methods. Researchers can help policy makers by removing one of the potential variables — changes in methods."

In September 2007 ARVO and IAPB organized the Vancouver of Group to examine the various methods used to measure visual impairment impact and recommend best practices. The panel of 12 leading vision researchers and professionals proposed seven guidelines, summarized as follows:

  1. A comprehensive list of costs includes monetary expenditures on health care (hospital, outpatient, and other), monetary expenditures on things other than health care, loss of patient productivity, loss of family member productivity, deadweight losses and loss of patient wellbeing.
  2. In any assessment of either prevalent or incident costs, the authors should identify the specific items included under the major categories in recommendation 1.
  3. Costs should be presented as separate line items to facilitate comparisons among studies.
  4. A default position is to use a single discount rate for all calculations in an analysis.
  5. The assumed value of purchasing a DALY or QALY should be clearly stated and justified.
  6. It is essential to indicate the perspective of costs included.
  7. The decision-making context and starting point of the analysis should be clear. A statement of whether and how the analysis will be used as part of other analyses is essential.
According to co-author Steven Kymes, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, "Higher quality studies using a methodology that consistently follows guidelines will help decision makers and advocates in the ophthalmology community to better understand the magnitude of the impact of visual impairment, how it is likely to change with demographic changes and no additional interventions, and how additional interventions can change the impact over time."

Dr. Frick says the next task is ensuring that the guidelines are disseminated within the research community. Hosting a workshop at an industry conference and sharing the recommendations in additional ophthalmology journals would enhance awareness of the guidelines and support efforts to adopt their practice.

"Following consensus-based guidelines will also make it easier for those asking questions about the impact of to know that they are receiving high quality estimates," says Dr. Frick. "And those who are involved in the process of making sure only high quality proposals are funded and only high quality manuscripts get published will have an easier task."

Explore further: Dengue fever strikes models in Japan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vision loss more common in people with diabetes

Oct 13, 2008

Visual impairment appears to be more common in people with diabetes than in those without the disease, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Vision impairment costs billions lost in productivity

Jun 02, 2009

Corrected vision impairment could prevent billions of dollars in lost productivity annually, according to a study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of School of Public Health, the International Centre ...

Virtual 'forest' used to measure navigation skills

Apr 27, 2006

A new study recently published in Journal of Vision, an online, free access publication of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), shows that an individual’s navigation skills can be measured by ...

Recommended for you

Dengue fever strikes models in Japan

1 hour ago

A worsening outbreak of dengue fever in Japan has claimed its first celebrities—two young models sent on assignment to the Tokyo park believed to be its source.

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

1 hour ago

Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

13 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

19 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

Sep 01, 2014

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments : 0