To simulate economic outcomes for individuals with diabetic macular edema (DME) and estimate the economic value of direct and indirect benefits associated with DME treatment.


Our study pairs individual and cohort analyses to demonstrate the value of treatment for DME. We used a microsimulation model to simulate self-reported vision (SRV) and economic outcomes for individuals with DME. Four scenarios derived from clinical trial data were simulated and compared for a lifetime horizon: untreated, anti-VEGF therapy, laser, and steroid. To quantify the relative magnitude of costs and benefits of DME treatment in the U.S., we used a cohort-level analysis based on real-world treatment parameters derived from published data.


In the model, excellent/good SRV roughly corresponded to 20/40 or better visual acuity. A representative 51-year-old treated for DME would spend 30–35% additional years with excellent/good SRV and 29–32% fewer years with fair/poor SRV relative to being untreated. A treated individual would experience 4–5% greater life expectancy and 9–13% more quality-adjusted life-years. Indirect benefits from treatment included 6–9% more years working, 12–19% greater lifetime earnings, and 8–16% fewer years with disability. For the U.S. DME cohort (1.1. million people), total direct benefit was $63.0 billion over 20 years, and total indirect benefit was $4.8 billion. Net value (benefit − cost) of treatment ranged from $28.1 billion to $52.8 billion.


Treatment for DME provides economic value to patients and society through improved vision, life expectancy, and quality of life and indirectly through improved employment and disability outcomes.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.22266355.

J.K. is currently affiliated with Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy, FTI Consulting, Washington, DC

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