How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?

FT Contributor  | 

If you’ve developed cataracts and they make your vision blurry or have increased the glare you see from lights, you may need cataract surgery to remove them. If your cataracts make it hard to see and affect your normal activities, your doctor may suggest getting surgery to correct your eyes.

One of the first questions you may have if your doctor suggests this surgery is how much cataract surgery costs. It’s important to understand what happens during cataract surgery in addition to the variables that can affect the cost of your cataract surgery.

What Is Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is different than other ocular surgeries because it only requires a small incision. Advancements in this surgery have made it easier to perform and recover from.

Basics of Cataract Surgery

An uncomplicated cataract surgery should only take about 15 minutes to complete. Technological advancements allow eye surgeons to utilize a high-frequency ultrasound device that breaks up the cloudy lens into tiny bits, which are then suctioned out. This state-of-the-art technology makes this outpatient procedure easier to recover from and more precise than in the past.

Before performing cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will complete a thorough eye exam and take measurements to determine the type of machinery and laser power your eyes need. During cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will:

  1. Prepare you for surgery.
  2. Use the ultrasound device to break down your cloudy lenses.
  3. Use a suction to remove these fragments of lens.
  4. Insert a clear intraocular lens behind the iris and pupil.
  5. Close the incision with a stitch, if needed.
  6. Place a protective shield over the eye.

After cataract surgery, you’ll be given recovery instructions you must follow for the health and safety of your eyes.

Cataract Surgery Recovery

You’ll need to have someone drive you home from your surgery since your vision may still be blurry. Your eye doctor may prescribe medicated eye drops that you’ll be required to use several times a day for a few weeks after surgery.

When you sleep or nap, you must wear protective eye covers and you may be provided with a special pair of sunglasses to use when you go outside. Be cautious of touching your eyes for the first few weeks and follow any additional post-operative instructions your eye doctor gives you.

Potential Risks

The potential risks associated with cataract surgery are rare and most complications are minor. These cataract surgery complications can usually be treated medically or with additional surgery and may include:

If you experience any of these complications after surgery, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible for treatment.

How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?

The average cost of cataract surgery is about $3,500 per eye. However, there are many variables that can affect your cataract surgery cost.

Does My Insurance Cover Cataract Surgery?

Whether or not your health insurance covers your cataract surgery has a great impact on how much you’re responsible for paying for this procedure. If you’re having basic cataract surgery, 80% of your surgery is covered under Medicare Part B, if you carry this type of insurance. This brings your out-of-pocket expenses down to $700. Most private insurance policies also pay for this surgery, but the amount they pay out depends on your company, plan, and deductible.

Where You Live Can Affect Your Cost

Where you plan to have your surgery can also affect the cost. If you live in a location where the cost of living is high, your cataract surgery can also be higher than average. If you live in an area with high rent, utilities, and other living expenses, it’s more likely that your surgery will also cost more.

Surgeon’s Experience and Quality

The eye surgeon you choose to perform your cataract surgery can also have an effect on the cost. If you choose an experienced eye surgeon, the surgery cost may be higher than if you choose an eye surgeon who’s performed fewer surgeries. However, it’s important to feel comfortable and confident in your surgeon’s abilities, no matter the cost.

Customized Procedure

Basic cataract surgery is less expensive than a customized procedure. However, your eye doctor may recommend a customized procedure if you need or desire an upgraded type of lens implant, which is called an intraocular lens (IOL). If you also need to correct astigmatism, your eye doctor may suggest toric IOLs, which will increase your cataract surgery cost by about $1,500 per eye.

If you also need to correct presbyopia (inability to focus on nearby objects) in addition to your cataract surgery, your eye doctor may suggest upgrading to refractive IOLs. These customized lenses can cost an additional $2,500 per eye. Your insurance may not cover a customized procedure, so review your coverage before deciding if you can afford special IOLs.

How to Pay for Cataract Surgery

Even if you have insurance, you may still be responsible for out-of-pocket costs associated with your cataract surgery. It’s important to have a plan in place for how you’ll cover these costs. If your eye doctor suggests cataract surgery, you should start saving money for the procedure right away. In order to save money, your income must be higher than your expenses. You can achieve this by lowering your monthly expenses or developing a new source of income, such as a part-time job or a garage sale.

If you have high out-of-pocket expenses for your cataract surgery, you may be able to claim what you paid as a tax deduction. However, there are different rules for medical tax deductions, such as only deducting the amount of your total medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

If you can’t save up for the cataract surgery yourself, you could take out a medical loan through a private lender or financial institution. Be sure the loan terms are favorable, including the amount, interest rate, and duration of the loan.

Cataract surgery can be expensive if you don’t have insurance or a plan in place to pay for it. However, this quick and technologically advanced procedure improves your vision, so it’s well worth the investment. You can explore options to pay for your cataract surgery before having the procedure to ensure you’ll stay financially stable well after you recover.


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