Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cataract Surgery Costs & Alternatives

Question: I have a cataract in my left eye that my doctor says is 'ripe' for surgery. I also have a less severe one in my right eye, but I am also extremely near-sighted so my doctor says I would have to have the right eye done two weeks after the left in order to function. My insurance pays 90% of the cost, plus a $50 co-pay and a $150 deductible; however, I can't get anyone - insurance company, eye doctor or ambulatory surgery facility - to tell me how much this would cost me out-of-pocket. Frankly, I'm strapped for cash and don't want to have the surgery only to find out I've destroyed my credit if I can't pay. Are there any alternatives to surgery? How long can I get away with progressively stronger eyeglasses (I get one pair free yearly from my union)?

Answer: First, your Cataract Surgeon seems to be giving you sound advice regarding the need to have the second cataract operation performed within two weeks or so. The optical imbalance created as a result of your extreme nearsightedness would probably make you very uncomfortable. I understand your frustration regarding trying to approximate exactly how much cataract surgery will cost you for co-pays and deductibles to have both eyes treated. It is indeed difficult to understand this. Regarding alternatives to Cataract Surgery you need to know that the only way to treat a cataract is to have it removed and to have an intraocular lens implant (IOL). Otherwise, changing glasses is a short term solution that while it might appear to alleviate the vision problem slightly and for a short time, it will not minimize the glare, halos and night driving problems you might be experiencing. The decision as to when to have Cataract Surgery is entirely up to the patient, however, strongly consider your safety, your driving and ability to function as you make the decision. Your best option might be to have a frank discussion with your cataract surgeon's office and explain that you will pay but depending on the amount due you may need to take some time to do so. And, have the same discussion with the surgery center.

Important Note: The information presented on the About Cataract Surgery Blog or provided in response to a request for information in the Ask Cataract Surgeons section on www.aboutcataractsurgery.com is not intended to diagnose or treat eye problems, eye conditions or eye diseases including appropriateness of treatment, risks, complications or side effects as related to LASIK. In particular a response to an inquiry made on the Ask Cataract Surgeons section of www.aboutcataractsurgery.com is not meant to take the place of the professional medical care provided by your eye doctor, ophthalmologist and Cataract Surgeon surgeon. Contacting us via e-mail or any other means is not a substitute for medical care.

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