Cataract Lens Price
In the past, cataract surgery, and the lens used were both fully covered by Medicare
and most major insurance plans. Cataract surgeons had few options when choosing
the right lens for their cataract patient. Cataract treatment involves removing
the eye’s natural crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.
Until recently, there were few cataract IOL’s (intraocular lens) and they all would
leave the patient dependent on glasses after surgery. Since these standard lenses
are covered, most patients did not have to pay out of pocket.
Today, there are many more options and both patients and doctors are involved in
making this important decision. It is now very important for patients and their
doctors to understand the desired outcomes and to take financial matters into account.
This is because today’s lenses, and the lenses of tomorrow are not covered by insurance
or Medicare. Usually considered “experimental" or lacking enough long term research,
most insurance plans will not cover multi-focal or accommodating lenses.
Conventional Cataract IOL
The conventional cataract IOL is still very common. These lenses have a single optic,
with a single viewing area (monofocal). Unlike accommodating or multi-focal lenses,
a conventional IOL will leave the patient dependent on glasses for near vision.
These lenses are covered by Medicare and by virtually all insurance plans.
Multi-focal Cataract IOL -- (Premium IOL's)
A multi-focal cataract IOL offers the possibility of seeing well at more than one
distance, with less dependence on glasses. The difference between a conventional
IOL and a multi-focal IOL has two do with the number of viewing areas. Like bifocal
(or trifocal) glasses, multi-focal IOL’s have 2-3 separate viewing areas. This allows
for viewing distance, intermediate and near, with less need for glasses. These lenses
however do not “accommodate" like the next generation of lenses will.
Accommodating Cataract IOL -- (Premium IOL's)
An accommodating IOL offers the possibility of truly eliminating the need for glasses
after cataract surgery. The difference between a multi-focal IOL and an accommodating
IOL is that and accommodating IOL will shift, change shape, or otherwise accommodate,
like the natural lens would, to allow for vision at all distances.
Currently, there is only one accommodating IOL on the market, but a lot more research
is being conducted. Many companies are working on new lenses that aim to compete
with the current accommodating lens. Over the next few years, many lenses are expected
to be completed, and both patients and doctors will have many more options. Unfortunately,
now financial considerations will need to be taken into account. These lenses require
the patient to pay (usually) thousands of dollars, out of pocket, if they wish to
have an accommodating lens. This is a lot to ask, given that there is not a 100%
guarantee that glasses will not still be required.