Report provides 20/20 vision on value of ophthalmology in Canada

Wednesday October 14, 2020

Report provides 20/20 vision on value of ophthalmology in Canada 

New report reveals projected cost savings of $1.6 billion in direct health care costs of treating vision loss

OTTAWA, October 8, 2020 — Nearly 1 in 6 Canadians are living with one of the four major eye diseases and are at serious risk of losing their vision, yet vision loss can be treated or even prevented in 75 per cent of cases. Now, the Conference Board of Canada reveals in a new report that treating vision loss is projected to save $1.6 billion in direct health care costs in 2020, a number that’s expected to reach $4 billion by 2040.

The report, which examined the value of ophthalmology from a health outcome, health care efficiency, and societal/economic perspective, shows the large economic impact on health care systems, society and individuals. According to the study, an estimated 263,400 individuals will have improved vision in 2020 through ophthalmic interventions. By treating vision loss, approximately 82,500 negative medical outcomes will be avoided, including injuries or other associated health care needs such as falls, hip fractures, depression, anxiety, admission into long-term care, and use of home care or caregiver services.

“The odds of getting a serious eye disease are higher than you think. Through early detection, treating vision loss provides life-changing impacts on patients and their families, including regained independence and quality of life,” says Dr. Colin Mann, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “Of all the disease categories in Canada, vision loss has the highest direct health care cost. The report shows that the economic benefits of averting vision loss far outweigh the cost of delivering ophthalmic interventions and help to safeguard the future of eye care in Canada.”

Growing demand for ophthalmology

While primary eye care is delivered by a variety of professionals including ophthalmologists, optometrists and family physicians, the diagnosis and management of most serious eye disease is provided by ophthalmologists, who are physicians specialized in the treatment of eye disease and trained both medically and surgically to treat serious eye disorders.

The number of ophthalmic interventions in Canada increased by 30 per cent between 2014 and 2018. Demand is projected to rise from around 1.1 million interventions in 2018 to 1.7 million interventions by 2040, driven by population growth and aging, as well as innovation and changes in clinical practice.

Among the ‘big five’ eye conditions that are responsible for the majority of vision loss are eye injuries and the diseases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy (DR), and glaucoma. If left untreated, these diseases can lead to severe vision loss or blindness. Canadians can find out their risk for developing one of the four serious eye diseases by taking a quick risk assessment on

“Our research shows that demand for eye care in Canada is growing as the population ages,” says Isabelle Gagnon-Arpin, Principle Research Associate at The Conference Board of Canada. “There are economic and quality of life benefits associated with treating and preventing vision loss.”

The Conference Board of Canada report, part of a series on The Value of Health Services in Canada, can be found here.  

About Canadian Ophthalmological Society

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit

About The Conference Board of Canada

The Conference Board of Canada is the country’s leading independent research organization. Our mission is to empower and inspire leaders to build a stronger future for all Canadians through our trusted research and unparalleled connections. Follow The Conference Board of Canada on Twitter @ConfBoardofCda

For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Glassen, [email protected], 647.309.0141, BlueSky Communications