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Management of ocular hypertension: a cost-effectiveness approach from the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study.

PURPOSE: The Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS) demonstrated that medical treatment of people with intraocular pressure (IOP) of > or =24 mm Hg reduces the risk of the development of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) by 60%. There is no consensus on which people with ocular hypertension would benefit from treatment.

DESIGN: Cost-utility analysis with the use of a Markov model.

METHODS: We modeled a hypothetic cohort of people with IOP of > or =24 mm Hg. Four treatment thresholds were considered: (1) Treat no one; (2) treat people with a > or =5% annual risk of the development of POAG; (3) treat people with a > or =2% annual risk of the development of POAG, and (4) treat everyone. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was evaluated.

RESULTS: The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for treatment of people with ocular hypertension were 3670 US dollars per quality adjusted life-year (QALY) for the Treat > or =5% threshold and 42,430 US dollars/QALY for the Treat > or =2% threshold. "Treat everyone" cost more and was less effective than other options. Assuming a cost-effectiveness threshold of 50,000 to 100,000 US dollars/QALY, the Treat > or =2% threshold would result in the most net health benefit. The decision was sensitive to the incidence of POAG without treatment, treatment effectiveness, and the utility loss because of POAG.

CONCLUSION: Although the treatment of individual patients is largely dependent on their attitude toward the risk of disease progression and blindness, the treatment of those patients with IOP of > or =24 mm Hg and a > or =2% annual risk of the development of glaucoma is likely to be cost-effective. Delay of treatment for all people with ocular hypertension until glaucoma-related symptoms are present appears to be unnecessarily conservative.

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