by Ra Ho, Lina D. Song, Jin A. Choi, Donghyun Jee Background Interventions that can facilitate early diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) will facilitate early treatment and improve clinical outcomes but there has been concerns about additional medical costs to the health care system. An examination through a retina fundus photography by a non-specialist has been suggested as a potential cost-effective alternative to a direct examination by a specialist, but limited scientific data exists on the cost-effectiveness of screening strategies for AMD. Our objective is to conduct an economic evaluation of various population-wide screening strategies for AMD among the South Korean population. Methods and findings Using a Markov cohort model, we evaluated the cost-effectiveness of four AMD screening strategies (opportunistic examination, opportunistic treatment, systematic photography, and systematic examination) in comparison with status quo (no screening) for South Korean adults. We projected a life time horizon to study a hypothetical cohort of 100,00 persons of age 40 with and without AMD at baseline. The outcome measures were quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained, cost from the societal perspective, and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of each strategy. Interventions were evaluated at a willingness-to-pay (WTP) threshold of 30,000,000 KRW ($27,538) per QALY gained. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were conducted to address the model uncertainty. Opportunistic examination was strongly dominated because it generated fewer expected QALYs but incurred greater expected cost than the other screening strategies. The mean lifetime expected costs were 289,013 KRW, 363,692 KRW, 9,351,964 KRW, and 12,309,783 KRW, and the mean QALYs gained were 37.73, 37.75, 40.47, 40.68, for no screening, opportunistic treatment, systematic photography, and systematic examination, respectively. The results were most sensitive to the utility weight of mild AMD, the probability of complication from treatment, the cost of being in mild AMD, and the probability of recovery from complication. After eliminating the two weakly dominated strategies, systematic photography was cost-effective at the ICER of 3,310,448 KRW per QALY in comparison to status quo. Conclusions Under the WTP threshold of 30,000,000 KRW per QALY, systematic photography is cost-effective for screening AMD in South Korean adults. Systematic examination by ophthalmologists generates more expected QALY and cost compared to systematic photography.
Natural Sciences in General