You’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, and suddenly it seems like you have a lot of decisions to make about technology, advanced lens options and finances.
Cataract surgery doesn’t have to be intimidating. A trusted ophthalmologist makes a tiny incision in your eye, removes the lens that has gotten cloudy with age, and inserts an artificial lens that restores your vision. After a short recovery, you’re back to enjoying clear vision for years to come.
As you conduct research on cataract treatment options, it’s important to consider the standard average costs and most common variables for surgery.
The Difference between Monofocal or Multifocal Lenses
The type of lens you choose is one of the single biggest factors in the cost of cataract surgery.
The standard intraocular lens (IOL) that’s inserted into an eye during cataract surgery is a monofocal lens, meaning a lens with a fixed focus for a certain distance – either close, intermediate or far. After surgery, your vision will be clear at that distance, but may need correction at other distances. This kind of IOL is the most common, and typically covered by Medicare (because most cataract patients are over 65) and most insurance plans.
Multifocal lenses, on the other hand, can correct your vision at multiple distances, reducing your need for eyeglasses or reading glasses after the surgery. Today’s cataract patient demands excellent vision after surgery. The multifocal lenses available now make it possible for you to read the words on prescription bottles, magazines, newspapers and computer screens without magnifying glasses or bifocals, while still seeing objects at a distance. Although these lenses provide great benefit to the patient, they are not deemed medically necessary, which adds a cost that is not covered by Medicare or most insurance plans.
If you choose one of the non-standard lenses, generally Medicare or your insurance company will cover the cost of out-patient surgery, the cost of anesthesia, as well as the surgeon fee, less any deductible or co-pay insurances. The patient is then responsible for the cost of the advanced technology lens. .
Types of Cataract Surgery
In the past, cataract surgeries were done manually – the eye surgeon made tiny incisions, broke the old lens into tiny pieces and removed it, and inserted the new lens by hand, using manual surgical tools.
Since 2010, however, when the FDA approved laser-assisted eye surgery for cataracts, new types of cataract surgery technology have become more common in the United States. The lasers used in cataract surgery are called femtosecond lasers, and they perform three of the surgical steps:
- The initial incision
- The opening of the capsule in the eye that contains the cataract
- The sectioning of the cataract into pieces
Laser-assisted eye surgery is most often used when the patient has chosen a multifocal lens.
Eye surgeons also can correct astigmatism during cataract surgery, by making tiny, arc-shaped incisions in the cornea; as these incisions heal, the cornea’s shape becomes more spherical.
Medicare and private insurance typically does not cover surgery to fix astigmatism, since it can be corrected by wearing glasses. The same judgment is applied when addressing both distance and near vision, since reading glasses are inexpensive and readily available.
Other Cost Considerations for Cataract Surgery
In addition to the type of intraocular lens you choose and whether your procedure is manual or laser-assisted, here are some other considerations that can affect the cost of cataract surgery:
- Cost can change based on whether your pre-op exam visits, medications or eye drops, and follow-up exams are included in the total. If those items are all add-on charges, the total can increase substantially.
- And don’t forget this: Your personal cost will be affected by the amounts of your deductible and co pay. Be sure to check with your insurance company to see exactly what is covered.
For More Information on Cataract Surgery
Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center prides itself on its doctors, their reputations, and its technology. For more information about cataracts and cataract surgery, call (866) 742-6581, or take our Cataract Self-Evaluation.