How Much Does a Trabeculectomy Cost?
A trabeculectomy is a type of glaucoma surgery wherein a part of the trabeculum in the eye is removed to relieve the intraocular pressure (IOP) caused by glaucoma. More commonly referred to as filtration surgery, trabeculectomy is recommended for patients who do not respond well to medications and/or other forms of treatment for glaucoma. The price to perform this procedure depends on the type of glaucoma and its severity.
How much does it cost?
- According to SurgicalServicesInternational.com, the national average cost of glaucoma surgery in the U.S. is $4,800, depending on location and specific patient needs. The average SSI cost is $2,500.
- PlacidWay.com, an online resource for the health and wellness tourism industry, states that the cost of glaucoma surgery in the US can range from $3,000 to $8,000, depending on surgical method, location, and use of devices and equipment.
- According to a new study of the American Medicare population, the average cost of glaucoma treatment in the Medicare population is $263 per patient each year.
What is going to be included?
- Once the patient decides to proceed with trabeculectomy, the surgery is scheduled. The procedure is conducted in the operating room with the patient put under local anesthesia. One hour before the surgery, the surgeon applies eye drop medications to the patient’s eye and subsequently prepares it for surgery using sterilizing solutions. Typically, a sterile drape is applied over the operative area using a speculum, a small device that holds the lids apart for the surgery. The surgeon may recommend mild sedation when performing trabeculectomy, depending on the patient’s case.
- The objective of the procedure is to lower the pressure on the eye by creating a new passageway wherein the aqueous fluid is drained out of the eye, reducing the IOP. The procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis, conducted under local anesthesia and about 30 to 45 minutes in length.
- An ophthalmologist and optometrist can detect glaucoma; however, only a ophthalmologist can perform this type of procedure.
- To learn more about this procedure, see this eyewiki.aao.org page.
What are the extra costs?
- After the trabeculectomy, eye drops are typically prescribed, and in some cases, patching is needed until the eye is completely healed. Antiobiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops are also recommended for at least 6 weeks following trabeculectomy. Medications for scarring may also be prescribed.
- A few weeks after the surgery, your doctor will want to see you for a follow-up appointment. During this visit, he will examine the eyes and ask you questions regarding the success of the surgery.
Factors that influence the price:
- Facility. Trabeculectomy done as an inpatient in a hospital is usually more expensive. Having the procedure done as an outpatient in a hospital often costs less. The least expensive option is to have the procedure conducted at a free-standing ambulatory surgery center.
- Fees. Surgical procedures typically entail surgeon’s fees and anesthesiologist’s fees, the rates of which vary from one location to another and from one professional to the next. It is recommended to be aware upfront of how much they will charge for a trabeculectomy.
- Insurance. How much a patient pays for glaucoma surgery depends on whether he or she has insurance. Surgical costs for insured patients are typically covered by their insurance provider up to a certain degree. Self-paying patients are usually given discounts. In general, uninsured patients pay the most. If you do not have health insurance or are looking for a new policy, eHealthInsurance.com allows you to browse through hundreds of policies for free.
Tips to know:
- Doctors will initially attempt to reduce IOP through glaucoma medications. Compliance is vital when it comes to using these eye drops as missing dosages can result to increased IOPs.
- Trabeculectomy does not cure glaucoma. Rather it is done to lower eye pressure, which helps in stopping or slowing down loss of vision, although this is not always possible.
- Certain medications should not be taken prior to having the surgery. Make sure to ask your doctor about this and other pre-surgery requirements.
- According to Surgery.com, about 56% of all trabeculectomy patients accomplish results of 20/20 or better, while more than 90% achieve 20/40 or better.
- Trabeculectomy and other eye surgical procedures present risk. For this reason, no operation is performed unless the benefits outweigh the risks, which include infection, bleeding, swelling, double vision, and scarring, to name some. It is also possible that a re-operation will be needed.
Questions to ask:
- Will I need medication after the procedure is done?
- How long will I know if it was a success?
- When will my vision be back to normal?
How can I save money?
- Consider having trabeculectomy conducted as an outpatient in a hospital setting or at a free-standing ambulatory surgery facility. The overall cost is considerably lower than having the procedure as an inpatient.
- Discuss with your surgeon the options that can help reduce the overall cost of trabeculectomy.
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