If you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, you already know that cataract surgery is the only cure and is necessary to prevent eventual blindness. Surgery options however can quickly become complex. From waiting times and insurance cover to the choice of surgeon and intraocular lens. It’s difficult to know what trade-offs will be made when balancing waiting times, surgery costs and the quality of vision post surgery.
Cataracts affect almost 700,000 Australians. Cataract surgery is one of the most common eye surgeries in Australia and has highly predictable and successful results. Surgery options for cataract removal can be viewed by comparing three competing priorities of time, cost and quality. This comparison may help decide which direction to take with surgery based on your personal preferences and situation.
If you want your cataract surgery done immediately, then you will most likely need to attend a private hospital or clinic. If your vision is particularly poor, you may not want to persist with poor vision for the 6-18 months it will take to be treated in a public hospital under Medicare. You may also simply wish to have more control over when your surgery is done to fit in with your lifestyle.
The sacrifice here is cost. The price will be dependent on whether or not you have private health insurance, met waiting periods with your health fund and the facility and lens the doctor has chosen. If you sign up for a new health insurance policy specifically for cataract surgery, there is likely a waiting period of up to 12 months which will defeat the purpose of getting your cataract surgery done quickly.
If you don’t have insurance nor the available funds, there is also the option of taking out a personal or medical loan to fast-track your surgery, however you should seek financial advice before doing so.
If cost is your priority, then you will be pleased to know Medicare will cover the costs of your surgery in Australia in a public hospital with no out of pocket costs.
The main sacrifice here is time. You can expect to wait between 6-18 months for treatment in a public hospital covered by Medicare. The other aspect to consider is that cataract surgery treats each eye in separate surgeries. This allows you to see properly during the recovery period for each eye. There may be a delay between the first and second surgery in a public hospital.
The other consideration is that you cannot choose your eye surgeon, obtain laser-assisted cataract surgery nor the ability to choose premium intraocular lenses which may correct other vision issues as part of your cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is a highly successful surgery and there is a high quality of surgeons working in both private and public hospitals across Australia. Increases in quality of outcomes may however be gained by working with your chosen eye surgeon to design a customised treatment plan to improve your vision quality post-surgery.
This improvement may come through choosing premium lenses that may remove the need to wear glasses post-surgery by correcting refractive errors. Also, newer techniques like laser-assisted cataract surgery might be a viable choice depending on your individual circumstances. Knowing your surgeon, their credentials and experience also can provide peace of mind when dealing with your vision quality.
Choosing your own surgeon, surgery type and premium lenses, while not possible through Medicare, may also exceed what is covered by private health insurance. This will depend on your level of cover.
Make an informed decision on your cataract surgery
Deciding on your cataract surgery options doesn’t only have to come from your own research. Getting personalised advice on which direction to take to obtain the best vision outcome is a good idea. Consulting with an Ophthalmologist is a good idea no matter which direction you might actually take with your cataract surgery.
Envision Eye Centre has a team of highly qualified and experienced Ophthalmologists including corneal and cataract specialists. We can provide advice on the best options for your cataract surgery. We perform both traditional and laser-assisted cataract surgery in our clinic. We can also talk through your lens options and if it can help correct your vision as part of your surgery. We can also provide an indication of costs based on what your ideal treatment plan looks like.