There are abundant examples of \"economics of ophthalmology\" articles in the peer-reviewed literature describing economic evaluations, that is cost–benefit and cost-effectiveness studies comparing the value of policies, guidelines or patient management options. In health systems with severely limited resources, the ability to compare the value of the cost and outcomes of different policy options is critical. However, while this is not the only tool that economics provides, there are notably fewer examples of peer-reviewed articles that describe analyses of data related to eye care that test whether economic theory describes individual, provider or organisational behaviour.
This brief overview discusses how economists distinguish among different types of markets and the markets' welfare implications for consumers and society. Policy makers and analysts in developed and developing health systems need to consider these when deciding whether, and if so how, to regulate changes in markets.
British Journal of Ophthalmology (2008) 92:301-302 [doi:10.1136/bjo.2007.127431]