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Invited Commentary
April 2016

Uncovering Some of the Hidden Costs and Burdens of Glaucoma

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
  • 2Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 3Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(4):365-366. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.5488

Using survey and administrative health care claims data from a large nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries, Prager and colleagues1 in this issue of JAMA Ophthalmology explore whether enrollees with a diagnosis of glaucoma had greater use of health care services (hospitalizations and emergency department visits), more difficulty with functional activities (ambulating and resultant falls), and higher total health care costs compared with other survey participants without glaucoma. The authors found that persons with glaucoma had increased odds of inpatient hospitalizations, home health aide visits, and annual costs for care. Moreover, persons with glaucoma who had self-reported visual disability were more likely than other patients with glaucoma to struggle with ambulation, falls, and depression. While these study findings may seem intuitive, they underscore how much we rely on our eyesight and capture some of the significant downstream consequences that vision loss can have on patients’ overall physical and mental health.