People can lose their eyesight for a variety of reasons. Our vision deteriorates with age so, as Europe’s population ages, more people need their vision corrected. Vision loss can also result from eye diseases which affect a large and growing number of Europeans. The main causes of preventable blindness in Europe are glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and cataract. Around half of people aged 80 years and older either have a cataract or have received treatment for one.
Vision loss can have a profound impact on those affected, resulting in lost independence and significantly limiting daily activities. Ageing increases the risk of eye diseases that can lead to visual impairment. The medical technology industry develops products that reduce the burden of eye disease on individuals, families and the wider economy. These innovations add enormous value to European society.
Blindness carries a significant economic burden. Nursing care, hospitalisation, surgery and loss of productivity have a measurable effect on healthcare systems. Direct healthcare costs of eye diseases are estimated to be greater than €18 billion per year, according to a study of 11 EU Member States.
There are also significant indirect costs:
- More than 120 million workdays are lost per year due to eye diseases.
- More than a quarter of the total cost is due to productivity loss
Medical technology solutions
According to the WHO, 50% of all cases of blindness in Europe are preventable. Although the potential burden of eye disease is growing in Europe for demographic reasons, the medical technology sector has developed a range of solutions that can help to minimise the impact of vision loss on individuals, their families and the wider economy.
One way to contain costs is to identify problems early and intervene accordingly – screening for glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy has been shown to save billions of euros. Cataract surgery is an excellent example of how the medical technology industry has responded to Europe’s needs.
In the past, people stayed in hospital overnight after the operation but today, same-day surgery is the new norm. It works just as well as inpatient surgery, is just as safe, and is popular with patients. Same-day cataract surgery is more efficient for health systems: research has found that same-day cataract surgery cut costs by 69% compared to inpatient surgery.
Technological advances continue in the eyecare sector, delivering value by facilitating not just the restoration of vision but also quicker recovery times – helping people get back to living normal, productive lives.