JAN 07, 2011
This is the first study to quantify the economic impact of visual impairment in Japan. Using a prevalence-based approach, the authors found that in 2007, visual impairment affected more than 1.64 million people in the country and cost around ¥8785.4 billion ($72.8 billion). This is equal to 1.7 percent of Japan's gross domestic product.
The authors used data on visual impairment, Japan's national health system and indirect costs. They found that the loss of well-being (years of life lost from disability and premature mortality) cost ¥5863.6 billion ($48.6 billion). Direct health system costs were ¥1338.2 billion ($11.1 billion). Other financial costs were ¥1583.5 billion ($13.1 billion), including productivity losses, care takers' costs and efficiency losses from welfare payments and taxes. Community care was the largest component of other financial costs and was composed of paid and unpaid services that provide home and personal care to people with visual impairment. The study's findings are in line with those of similar studies in Australia and the United States.
The authors conclude that eliminating or reducing disabilities from visual impairment through public awareness of preventive care, early diagnosis, more intensive disease treatment and new medical technologies could significantly improve the quality of life for visually-impaired people and their families in Japan. This could also potentially reduce national health care costs and increase productivity. The authors say the study's results should provide a first step in helping policymakers to evaluate policy effects and prioritize research expenditures.