Researchers recently found that patients with open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and ocular hypertension (OHT) are faced with the highest eye-related costs, when confronting severe stages of the disease.

This retrospective cohort study included 177,352 patients (68% OAG, 32% OHT). The team calculated total eye-related outpatient costs and odds of falls or fractures in each group.

The investigators reported that OAG patients were burdened with higher eye-related outpatient costs than OHT patients (median $516 vs. $344, respectively). Specifically, patients with severe OAG had higher outpatient costs than moderate and mild OAG patients (median $639 vs. $546 vs. $476, respectively), as well as higher glaucoma-related pharmacy costs (median, $493 vs. $244 vs. $139, respectively). Disease worsening was associated with at least twofold higher annual outpatient costs. Severe OAG patients had significantly higher odds of fall or fracture compared with OHT patients (odds ratio = 1.34).

“Therapies that delay disease progression may provide clinical and economic benefits,” the authors concluded in their paper, particularly since the study “highlights the importance of delaying disease progression early, because the downstream costs remained high even after patients were managed with multiple [glaucoma medications].”

Shih V, Parekh M, Multani JK, et al. Clinical and economic burden of glaucoma by disease severity: a United States claims-based analysis. Ophthalmology. February 11, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].