A US study has found that hospital patients with vision loss are subject to higher medical costs and are hospitalised for longer than those without vision loss.

The huge study, published in the JAMA Ophthalmology, compared the experiences of 12,330 Medicare beneficiaries and 11,858 commercial health insurance enrolees with or without vision loss. Severe vision loss was linked with longer mean length of stay, higher readmission rates and higher costs during hospitalisation and 90 days after discharge.

Researchers estimated that, when extrapolating results to older populations, hospitalisation of patients with vision loss meant excess health care costs of more than $500m annually.

The nationwide study concluded addressing vision-related issues was an opportunity to reduce length of stay and costs while improving outcomes and patient satisfaction.