Affordability of cataract surgery using the Big Mac prices

Van C. Lansingh, Marissa J. Carter, Kristen A. Eckert, Kevin L. Winthrop, João M. Furtado, Serge Resnikoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: One barrier to cataract surgery is its high price in some countries. This study aims to understand to what extent the price of cataract surgery is over- or undervalued and whether it varies in relation to GDP using The Economist newspaper Big Mac Index (BMcI) methodology, which measures the purchasing power parity between different currencies. Methods: Peer-reviewed articles containing information on cataract surgery prices were searched from 1993 to June 2012 in databases. Ophthalmologists in different countries were also contacted to provide prices. Phacoemulsification prices were adjusted to 2012 US dollars and were weighted depending on the source and year that they were obtained. Big Mac prices in different countries were obtained at The Economist website. Results: Data were collected from 20 countries and the Euro Zone. Cataract surgical prices varied from USD 178 (India) to USD 3557 (US). Big Mac prices ranged from USD 1.62 (India) to $5.91 (Sweden). There was no linear correlation between Big Mac prices and cataract surgical prices; best fit was a power curve with an R squared of 0.433 (p = 0.001). Conclusion: The price of cataract surgery does not consider the patient's capacity to pay, based on a simple tool such as the BMcI. This suggests affordability issues, particularly when patients work for minimum wages and/or do not have access to free health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalRevista Mexicana de Oftalmologia
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Blindness
  • Cataract
  • Costs and cost analysis
  • Fees and charges
  • Ophthalmologic surgical procedures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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