Surgery Is The Only Way

The eye’s natural lens helps guide light to the brain, where images are processed. For most people, this lens breaks down over time, a condition known as a cataract. The lens becomes cloudy, leading to blurry sight and difficulty making out objects. A cataract must be surgically removed to restore vision lost from the disease.

Surgery from start to finish

Cataract surgery is performed in the sterile operating room of a hospital or ambulatory surgery center. Upon arriving at the facility, patients receive pre-operative care to prepare for the procedure. Nurses administer numbing and antibiotic eye drops before moving individuals to a surgical bay.

Once in the operating room, the surgeon may request an anesthesiologist to perform IV sedation to help relax the patient. During surgery, an artificial lens is placed in the eye to restore clear vision. After the procedure is complete, the patient is taken to post-operative recovery to rest and receive follow-up instruction.

Air out your finances

Each of these steps maximizes the chances of a successful surgery but also comes with a cost. The doctor will charge for service, as will the surgery center for use of staff and room. If an anesthesiologist is used, there will be a charge for that as well. When all is said and done, the average cataract surgery runs about $3,500. This amount can be a steep hurdle for individuals without insurance.

The joys of insurance

Those with insurance see a large reduction in this overall price. In many cases, insurance companies will cover the majority of the cost. This leaves the patient with little to pay if the deductible has been met. Medicare Part B typically covers 80% of the surgical cost once the deductible has been met. A supplemental insurance is sometimes used to offset the remaining 20%.

This lens or that

A large financial decision before cataract surgery comes with the choice of artificial lens implanted during surgery. Most insurance companies cover a basic (monofocal) lens, but few cover premium options. These premium options include multifocal lenses, astigmatism correction, or both. These lenses can significantly improve vision but often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Getting physical

For the financial headaches any procedure can cause, physical recovery from cataract surgery is almost always less severe. In most cases, recovery time is short and the number of restrictions are minimal.

To do or not to do

After cataract surgery, patients should not drive for 24 hours as the body returns to normal. Avoid rubbing or getting water in the eye for at least a week to reduce the chance of infection. Stay away from makeup and areas with high concentrations of dirt, pollen, and dust. If possible, don’t perform heavy lifting or strenuous work. When outside, protect the eye with sunglasses. The doctor will have the best idea of when activities can be resumed.

I see what you mean

The eye needs about a month to heal completely from the procedure. Individuals often see better within 24 hours of surgery, but recovery can take longer. Regular visits to the surgeon are necessary to monitor sight and check for problems.