Cost of military eye injury and vision impairment related to traumatic brain injury: 2001-2017

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Annual incidence of eye injury among members of the US armed services is high and can cause vision impairment and blindness. Traumatic brain injury is also associated with visual function. An estimate of the cost of treatment, benefits for those who are disabled, productivity loss for those with reduced vision function, and the cost of replacing and retraining others to take the responsibility of those who are discharged from the military will provide a benchmark to which to compare the cost of new methods to prevent, diagnose, mitigate, treat, and rehabilitate vision loss after injury. Materials and Methods: The modeling exercise used a combination of data from military websites, results previously published in the literature, and from other government websites. Data were combined to estimate the number of superficial injuries, the number of injuries with a high risk of blindness, the cost of medical care, the cost of disability benefits, and the cost of potential lost productivity. Results: Over the time period in question, the average annual incidence of eye injury was 15,681 with 304 hospitalized and 298 at high risk of blindness. There were 4,394 annual TBI cases without injury to the eye but with visual impairment. The total cost of treatment, benefits, and potential lost productivity is $2.4 billion annually; $1.9 billion is associated with TBI. $11.7 million is associated with replacing and retraining members of the military. Conclusions: The cost of eye injury and vision dysfunction in the military is substantial. The cost of potential productivity loss associated with TBI makes up the largest proportion of total costs. Developing new standards to enhance eye safety and limit TBI could be cost-effective. Cost analyses such as this study should prove helpful in determining the economic return on investments to prevent, mitigate, treat, and rehabilitate visual system injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberusy420
Pages (from-to)e338-e343
JournalMilitary medicine
Volume184
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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