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Editorial
September 14, 2009

Use of Global Visual Acuity Data in a Time Trade-off Approach to Calculate the Cost Utility of Cataract SurgeryMethodological Issues of Cost-Utility Comparisons

Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(9):1205-1206. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.236

Cost-effectiveness studies in health care inform policy decisions, particularly with respect to allocation of health care resources. For example, if the number of cataract surgeries performed is limited by the availability of surgeons, a policy maker may have to choose between paying for surgery of 1 eye only, to maximize the number of people who can have surgery, or paying for surgery in both eyes, to maximize the benefit of surgery to each individual. In another example, a program manager at a foundation might have to choose between funding a cataract surgery project in country A or funding a child vaccination program in country B. To make rational and defensible decisions, policy makers must use the same decision criterion for all choices to compare outcomes in a common measurement unit. The work by Lansingh and Carter1 in this issue of the Archives examines the cost-effectiveness of cataract surgery around the world. The article raises a series of interesting methodological issues that can influence future cost-effectiveness studies related to eye care.

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