How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 7, 2018

Cataract surgery is the process of removing the natural lens of the eye that has developed an opacification, also known as a cataract.   When the cataract is removed, a new lens will be placed inside the eye, allowing someone to see great again.

During this surgical procedure, the eye’s’ natural lens is replaced with a synthetic lens to retain the lens’ transparency.  The surgery is performed by an ophthalmologist and can either be performed in an ambulatory or surgical center, with little to no discomfort.

Phoropter - Ophthalmologist - Pre Op Vis by ex_magician, on Flickr
Phoropter – Ophthalmologist – Pre Op Vis” (CC BY 2.0) by ex_magician

How much is the cost of cataract surgery?

On average, the physician services, facility services, the type of replacement lens and anesthesia services can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,500 per eye without health insurance.  A premium eye lens is going to cost more than a standard lens, costing upwards of $750 to $1,500 extra per eye.

Lasik Surgery News said as of late, laser cataract surgery has been approved for usage in the United States, and this procedure can be a bit more than standard surgery.  This procedure can cost about $872 per eye, according to the website.

AllAboutVision.com claims that the surgery, without insurance, averages about $4,461.47, while those with Medicare and insurance can expect to pay anywhere from $528 to $947.  The website also notes implanting a standard monofocal IOL during the surgery will be considered the standard of care and will be covered.

DocShop.com says premium cataract surgery can cost an additional $500 to $5,000 per eye, and qualified patients should expect some sort of customized visual result.

Factors that affect the price:

The reputation and skill of the surgeon.

The geographical location where the surgery will be performed.

The type of lens.  As noted below in our table, there are different lens available on the market.

What will be included in hospital’s/outpatient center’s billing?  Some doctors will include the pre-op and follow-up visits while other doctors won’t cover.  The same can be said about anesthesia.  This is why it’s important to know what’s going to be covered when getting an estimate.

If the insurance provider is going to cover any parts of the surgery.

Cataract surgery overview

During the procedure, a slight incision will be made on the side of the cornea.  Inserting a tiny instrument, the ultrasound will break up the center of the cloudy lens, suctioning everything out.  After the cloudy lens has been removed, it will be replaced by what’s known as an intraocular lens, made of a material such as silicone or plastic.  The procedure is usually an outpatient procedure and most patients can go home the same day.  The procedure takes about 10 minutes to perform, and after the sugery, the patient will be asked to rest in a recovery area for up to 60 minutes.

Types of cataract surgery available

Accommodating:  Works just like most natural lenses as it can increase focus and increase the clarity.

Aspheric:  Providing the most advanced contrast sensitivity, images will appear clearer.

Laser-assisted:  With this advanced procedure, a femtosecond laser will be performed where manual surgical tools are usually used.  Adding a higher degree of precision, laser surgery can reduce the stress on the retina and delicate tissues of the eye.  This procedure is usually done when a premium IOL is implanted.

Monofocal:  This is a higher-quality lens that’s able to deliver great vision at only one distance.

Monovision:  This technique will use a monofocal lens with a different power in each eye so the patient doesn’t have to use glasses for daily use.  With this procedure, the dominant eye is usually set for distance, while the other is set for near.

Multifocal:  Designed to reduce your needs for eyeglasses and can be used for both near and distance vision.  This lens offers a clear vision at several distances, and since it’s considered a special lens, it may not be covered by insurance.

Toric:  Will enhance the image quality at a single distance and is designed to correct astigmatism.

What are the extra costs?

Anesthesia may be billed separately and can cost $300 to $800.

Some doctors may want to run an EKG to determine the heart’s health before undergoing this procedure.

Eye exams may be necessary ahead of time as well to gather exact measurements on what needs to be done.

If astigmatism needs to be corrected, most doctors will recommend adding at least $300 per eye to fix this problem.

A hospital setting is going to cost more than a local facility.  Overnight stays at a local hospital can be upwards of $1,000 a night.

Medications will be prescribed after the surgery is complete.  This may or may not be included in the overall price of the surgery package.

Follow-up visits will be required after the surgery is performed to ensure that the healing process is going according to plan.

After some surgeries, depending on the type of lens, prescription or reading glasses will still be needed in the future.

Risks involved:

Infections

Bleeding that occurs inside of the eye

Retina and/or cornea swelling

Detachment of retina

How can I save money?

Check with your insurance company to see what will be covered.  Be sure to ask about copays, the deductible and if you need to go to a preferred provider.  For those without insurance, consider insurance comparison services such as eHealthInsurance.

Does medicare cover cataract surgery?  There are instances where Medicare will cover this type of procedure, and Medicare will usually pay up to 80 percent of the “Medicare Allowed” charges, and more than likely, you will be responsible for that additional 20 percent.  It will only cover the procedure if you have a chronic eye condition that needs to be fixed such as cataracts or glaucoma.  However, if you choose a premium lens option, you will be responsible for this as Medicare usually doesn’t cover a premium intraocular lens.  medicareinteractive.org says Medicare will cover the surgery if you replace your eye’s lens with a man-made intraocular lens.

Some offices may offer a cash discount if you were to pay the bill in full.

For those looking for free cataract surgery, clinics and charities may have options in your local area if you qualify.  Mission Cataract USA, for example, offers the surgery for free to those who have no means to pay.


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