Cataract Surgery and Lens Replacement
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Is cataract surgery in your future?

In cataract surgery, the cloudy, natural lens is removed from the eye and in most cases a plastic lens replaces the natural lens to return eyesight.Cataract Surgery

When you have cataract surgery is a personal choice, and depends on how well you are able to see during your daily activities.

If you have cataracts, you may notice that your eyesight is getting worse and that it is not better with glasses or contact lens.  If it’s hard for you to do regular activities because of your eyesight it may be time for cataract surgery.

Lens Replacement

Most replacement lenses are made of a flexible material and are smaller than a dime.

Starting June 4, 2012, there will be significant cost savings to patients requiring lens replacement following cataract surgery.

  • Foldable, monofocal lens (the most common type of replacement lens) will be free to patients covered through the Medical Services Plan.
  • Patients who need cataract surgery will not pay for lens as long as they choose an insured lens (foldable monofocal lens).  This includes consultation, visits, and testing for insured lens.

With cataract lens replacement, several types of lenses are available to help people enjoy better vision.  These include the insured monofocal lenses (used by about  90% of patients in BC) which offer vision at one distance only.  Specialty lens may also correct other vision problems, allowing you to see without glasses or contacts.  Speciality lens can be bought for an additional cost.

Choosing a non-insured (specialty) lens

If you want a specialty lens, you can buy these from Northern Health.  You pay only the difference between the cost of the insured lens and the non-insured specialty lens you choose.

Please note that services beyond those provided by the Medical Services Plan (MSP) may be billed for.

Questions and Answers

What is an intraocular lens?

Cataract surgery involves removing a cloudy lens from the eye and replacing it with a clear plastic lens to restore vision. These implanted lenses are referred to as intraocular lenses.

There are two basic types of intraocular lenses: rigid and foldable. Rigid lenses are an older version; foldable lenses are more updated technology.

The most commonly used lens is also called monofocal, which is similar to the natural eye lens. However, multifocal lenses exist to correct not only cataracts, but also correct certain eye conditions.

What lens is considered the standard of care for cataract surgery?

In June 2012, the government of British Columbia decided to make foldable monofocal lenses the standard of care for cataract surgeries. The decision was based on a review of the most commonly-used lenses as well as discussions with ophthalmologists, clinical experts and patients. Foldable monofocal lenses are used by about 90 percent of patients in B.C.

How much will I pay if I choose a foldable monofocal lens?

Nothing. There is no cost to you if you choose a foldable, monofocal lens for your cataract surgery. The lens, surgery and doctor services are covered by your medical services plan. You should not pay the surgeon or the hospital any fee.

How much will I pay if i choose a non-insured specialty lens?

You will have to pay the difference in price between the standard monofocal lens and the specialty lens you choose. You will not pay the full price of the specialty lens.

If I choose a specialty lens, how do I pay the cost difference?

If you decide to purchase a specialty lens for your cataract surgery, you will pay the health authority directly. You can pay at the cashier’s office at the hospital sites.

Will specialty lenses become insured in the future?

No. Your medical services plan covers what is medically-required to fix your cataract. Specialty lenses are not needed for cataract surgery. They correct your vision so that you won’t have to wear eyeglasses.

Have prices changed for specialty lenses?

No. But as of Monday, May 13, 2013 all health authorities will pay a lower price for the standard monofocal foldable lenses through a provincial contract with lens suppliers. This is saving our health care over four million dollars each year.

Will my doctor have other brands of lenses that I can buy?

Health authorities must purchase and supply all lenses that are used in publicly-funded cataract surgeries. This means that doctors do not purchase or sell lenses directly to patients.

How many people have cataract surgery in BC?

In 2010/2011 there were 51,887 cataract surgeries in British Columbia. We expect that about 90 per cent of patients will receive the free-of-charge monofocal foldable lenses for their cataract surgery.