Glaucoma patient subset care costs most

Oct. 6, 2012 at 4:15 PM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A small subset of U.S. patients with open-angle glaucoma account for a large proportion of all glaucoma-related charges, researchers found.

Dr. Joshua D. Stein, a glaucoma specialist at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center and Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues reviewed claims data from 19,927 patients with newly diagnosed open-angle glaucoma who were enrolled in a large U.S. managed care network.

The researchers identified glaucoma-related charges for all such patients from 2001 through 2009 and found the costliest 5 percent of those enrolled were responsible for $10,202,871, or 24 percent, of all glaucoma-related charges.

The study, published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, found glaucoma patients generally consume the greatest relative share of resources during their first six months of care after diagnosis.

"We've identified risk factors associated with patients who are the costliest recipients of glaucoma-related eye care," Stein said in a statement. "Among these factors are younger age, living in the northeastern United States, undergoing cataract surgery and having other eye conditions. Understanding the characteristics of these individuals and finding ways to reduce disease burden and costs associated with their care can result in substantial cost savings."

Open-angle glaucoma chronic is a progressive, incurable disease that affects more than 2 million U.S. adults and is the most common cause of blindness among African-Americans.

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