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The Financial Impact of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes is a devastating condition affecting more than 30 million Americans (about 9.4% of the population). The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than seven million people aren’t even aware that they have this debilitating disease. Twenty percent of people first learn that they are diabetic as a result of an eye exam when the eye doctor examines the optic nerve, retinal blood vessels, and the back of the eye for the telltale signs of the disease. 

Diabetes costs the U.S. an estimated $327 billion annually, with $237 billion coming from direct medical costs and $90 billion coming from decreased productivity.   Diabetics are at risk for a number of eye issues, including glaucoma and cataracts, as well as a blinding condition called diabetic retinopathy. Nearly 30 percent of diabetics suffer from diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes-related blindness costs can total more than $500 million per year. In addition, patients with diabetic retinopathy have noticeably higher medical costs than those with other diabetes-related conditions.    

Fortunately, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness from diabetic retinopathy by 95 percent. In its early stages, when treatment has the greatest likelihood of success, patients are typically asymptomatic. Thus, a regular eye exam is a critical component of any health and wellness program to reduce blindness from this disease. And yet, even with the threat of blindness, research shows that many diabetics skip that annual eye exam.

At Versant Health, we have a sophisticated program of community outreach overseen by our healthcare experts whose only responsibility is to reduce blindness due to diabetic eye disease. Versant Health is committed to driving member engagement and disease management proactively, working to exact behaviors desired from members with diabetes and/or diabetic retinopathy. By working proactively to provide early treatment and possibly even early diagnosis for these debilitating conditions, Versant Health can affect better patient outcomes and lower costs overall.


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