Cataract surgery involves replacing the natural lens within the eye and replacing it with and IOL (artificial lens). There are many types of IOL's used in cataract surgery and many require the patient to pay out of pocket for the cost of the lens.
A multifocal lens is a lens that has multiple zones on the lens to view through. These areas allow patients to focus at different distances depending on what part of the lens they are looking through. These lenses are helping change the way cataract surgery is done. Prior to multifocal lenses, patients were forced to wear thick glasses after cataract surgery.
Multifocal lenses are currently not covered by Medicare or most private insurance companies. Most coverage plans consider the new multifocal lenses to be an added luxury and not required for cataract surgery.
Up until 2007, cataract surgery patients were not allowed to choose these new lenses if their coverage plan did not authorize them. In 2007 there was a ruling that allowed patients to receive the new lens and pay out of pocket for the extra cost. Often, the new multifocal lenses can cost up to $2500 a lens. This ruling opened the door to a lot of patients that up until then could not choose these exciting new lenses.
At up to $2500 a lens, patients often ask if the new multifocal lenses will guarantee that they will not need to wear glasses. This promise can not be given though because everyone is different and sometime glasses are still needed for certain activities.
When it comes to choosing the best lens for cataract surgery, patients now have many lenses to choose from. It is very important that cataract surgery patients discuss their goals and lifestyle needs with their surgeon and also weigh the benefits with the high cost of the newest lenses. While these lenses bring happiness to many people, they are very expensive and may cost too much for many. Often, getting rid of a $10 pair of glasses is not worth risking up to $5000 (for both eyes) to eliminate the need. Patients should always discuss their specific concerns with their cataract surgeon prior to surgery.