Costs of Refractive Correction of Distance Vision Impairment in the United States, 1999-2002

  • Correctable vision impairment caused by refractive error is common in the United States population. We estimated the direct costs of providing eyeglasses to all Americans (age≥12) who need refractive correction to achieve good distance vision.

  • Cross-sectional study of a nationally representative sample of United States citizens.

  • Participants in the 1999–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), age ≥ 12 years. The NHANES examines a nationally representative sample of the U.S. noninstitutionalized, civilian population.

  • The NHANES results indicate that >110 million Americans could or do achieve normal vision with refractive correction. The annual direct cost of correcting distance vision impairment is at least $3.8 billion. Of this amount, $780 million represents the annual cost of providing distance vision correction for persons > age 65.

  • Correctable vision impairment due to refractive error is common in the United States population. These cost estimates provide useful information for public health endeavors aimed at provision of refractive correction to those who need it.

Publication date

April 25, 2019



Sponsor Institution

NHANES is sponsored by the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additional funding for the NHANES Vision Component was provided by the National Eye Institute


Susan Vitale PhD, MHS Mary Frances Cotch PhD, Robert Sperduto MD, Leon Ellwein PhD
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