The case for investment in eye health: systematic review and economic modelling analysis

Brad Wong, Kuldeep Singh, Bryce Everett, Kieran S. O’brien, Thulasiraj Ravilla, Rohit C. Khanna, Heidi Chase, Kevin D. Frick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To assess how the returns on investment from correcting refractive errors and cataracts in low-and middle-income countries compare with the returns from other global development interventions. Methods We adopted two complementary approaches to estimate benefit-cost ratios from eye health investment. First, we systematically searched PubMed® and Web of Science™ on 14 August 2023 for studies conducted in low-and-middle-income countries, which have measured welfare impacts associated with correcting refractive errors and cataracts. Using benefit-cost analysis, we compared these impacts to costs. Second, we employed an economic modelling analysis to estimate benefit-cost ratios from eye health investments in India. We compared the returns from eye health to returns in other domains across global health and development. Findings We identified 21 studies from 10 countries. Thirteen outcomes highlighted impacts from refractive error correction for school students. From the systematic review, we used 17 out of 33 outcomes for benefit-cost analyses, with the median benefit-cost ratio being 36. The economic modelling approach for India generated benefit-cost ratios ranging from 28 for vision centres to 42 for school eye screening, with an aggregate ratio of 31. Comparing our findings to the typical investment in global development shows that eye health investment returns six times more benefits (median benefit-cost ratio: 36 vs 6). Conclusion Eye health investments provide economic benefits with varying degrees based on the intervention type and location. Our findings underline the importance of incorporating eye health initiatives into broader development strategies for substantial societal returns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-799
Number of pages14
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'The case for investment in eye health: systematic review and economic modelling analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this