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Invited Commentary
November 2018

Affordability of Glaucoma Treatment Around the Globe: An Initial Step Toward Improving Universal Access to Glaucoma Treatment

Author Affiliations
  • 1Bernard and Shirlee Brown Glaucoma Research Laboratory, Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(11):1279-1280. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2018.3670

Appropriate use of medical treatments can substantially reduce global morbidity and mortality. However, for patients in low- and middle-income countries, the ability to pay for treatment may be difficult or impossible, given competing demands for resources on limited available income. To improve access to affordable medication, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Action International (HAI) have launched a project on medicine prices and availability.1 The WHO-HAI project aims to enhance the accessibility to medical treatment around the globe through research, regulatory measures, and changes in policy.1 As such, measuring the availability and cost of treatment is a necessary first step to improve the accessibility of medication in low- and middle-income countries. Since the WHO-HAI project inception, several studies have evaluated medication availability and affordability for chronic medical diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, asthma, and epilepsy.2 However, to my knowledge, there has been little research to date on the cost and access of intraocular pressure–lowering treatment in developing countries. Because a considerable proportion of visual morbidity can be prevented if treatment is made accessible and affordable, improving access to medical and surgical therapy should be a priority for public health researchers. In this issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, Zhao et al3 provide a much-needed preliminary assessment of relative cost of glaucoma treatment worldwide.

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