Cataract formation is part of the natural ageing process and eventually most people require surgery. Mostly cataract occurs later in life, but it can form at any time particularly if there is other disease, medication use, or eye trauma. Left untreated, cataracts can cause significant visual impairment and may interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks.
There is no correct time to have surgery. For most, this is a personal decision that considers the speed of vision loss, the impact on lifestyle, and an assessment of the small risk involved with surgery. Modern cataract surgery is normally performed in a day surgery unit with minimal discomfort and inconvenience. Most patients experience good vision the following day and mild or no discomfort overnight.
At MCES, we use leading technologies and advanced surgical procedures to deliver a comprehensive and affordable cataract surgery. Our surgeons have the experience and training required to perform cataract surgeries on all patients with ease. To help you make your decision, we have responded to frequently asked questions.
What is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery involves treating the affected eye in which a cataract (usually a yellowish cloudy substance) has formed on the lens. The cataract distorts or blocks light entering the eye causing imperfect focussing of light and hence blurred vision. The surgery takes 15 minutes and involves making tiny incisions in the cornea to allow access to the lens. A phacoemulsification probe is used to remove the cataract formation.
An artificial lens is inserted into the eye. For those who wish to be glasses free, there is the possibility of implanting a multi-focal lens. If you would like to consider becoming glasses free, please discuss this with us so we can determine if you can receive a multi-focal intra-ocular lens with your cataract surgery. Following the insertion of the lens, the tiny incision wounds in the cornea do not require sutures. The eye is treated with prophylactic antibiotics to decrease the risk of infection.
While the surgery usually takes 15 minutes, the entire operation must not be rushed. You should generally expect to spend about 3 hours at our day surgery centre for your cataract operation. This allows time for you to be: checked in, have your eye prepared for cataract surgery, have your anaesthetic, have cataract surgery, and for you to recover from the anaesthetic.
Cataract surgery recovery time depends on the individual. There are certain things you need to do following the surgery including using the eye drops you have obtained from the pharmacist, not bending over or doing strenuous exercise, wearing glasses outside to prevent sun and debris infiltration and much more. We will explain the post-operative procedures to you following surgery, and you can read about them generally on our website.
What are the types of cataract surgery?
There are many types of cataract surgery that achieve a similar outcome including laser surgery, micro surgery and ultrasound techniques. At MCES, we perform micro surgery because of its benefits over the other types of surgery. Modern small incision cataract surgery is essentially painless. Most surgeons now perform the cataract operation with anaesthetic drops and twilight anaesthetic to create minimal or no discomfort.
What is the average cost of cataract surgery?
The average cost of cataract surgery depends on the condition of the eye. As a guide, at MCES our cataract surgery package is very affordable starting from $1,600 per eye out-of-pocket for uninsured patients. However, prior to the surgery, a very small initial consultation fee is payable.
The initial consultation to assess the eye costs $170. With a Medicare rebate, the out-of-pocket expense is just under $100. This includes the initial consultation test, free colour photo of your retina, free OCT (laser scan) and biometry (which is bulk billed).
As explained above, the $1,600 surgery package includes the surgeon fee, theatre fee, standard lens fee (please discuss with us the cost for non-standard lens fees), post-surgery refreshments and free travel to and from the day surgery. Anaesthetic costs are extra depending on your condition and circumstances.
All accounts must be settled on the day of your consultation. Once the fee is fully paid, and if you have a Medicare card, we can electronically submit your claim to Medicare for you to receive a small refund. Usually the refund is in your account within 24 hours.
Cost without insurance
If you are uninsured, we can offer you cataract surgery at a low affordable price of $1,600 per eye. This includes pre-surgery procedures and post-surgery procedures including transport to and from the centre, except anaesthetic costs.
Cost with insurance
At MCES, we have a set fee for cataract surgery (see above). All health insurance funds pay a different amount to the operating surgeon. If your fund pays less than our set fee, you will have to pay the difference as a gap. For some funds there is no gap, for most funds there is a small gap of some several hundred dollars. Unfortunately, some of the budget health funds pay low fees and most of the surgeon fee ends up being paid by the patient. There may be an excess payable depending on your health fund.
We recommend you understand your health insurance policy and direct any questions in relation to the policy to your insurance provider.
Cataract surgery cost for pensioners in Australia 2019
For pensioners, no discounts apply for packages. However, pensioners receive discounted fees for any investigations and procedures at MCES that are not included within a package. We do not offer discounts, because our package fees are already heavily discounted compared to market rates. While our fees are comparatively low, we do not compromise our services. We continue to provide leading high-quality services delivered by qualified, experienced and friendly surgeons who care about your eyes as much as you do.
Is cataract surgery covered by Medicare?
Many, but not all, costs incurred for cataract surgery are covered by Australia’s Medicare system. The Medicare safety net only applies to items that attract a Medicare benefit, and only to medical care provided in the clinic. The safety net does not apply to procedures formed in our day surgery centres.
If you do not have a Medicare card you will not receive subsidies from Medicare to assist with the cost of surgery and you will have to pay an increased day surgery fee. Please give us a call for an accurate quote if you would like to consider cataract surgery.
Where to get Affordable Cataract Surgery in Australia?
At MCES, we provide affordable cataract surgery in Australia. We understand your eyes are important to you and we make sure you can access the eye care you need. At MCES we have a purpose built state-of-the-art facility that has been designed to create a warm and inviting atmosphere from the moment you walk in the front door. Our surgeons are highly trained, experienced and qualified to provide comprehensive ophthalmic care. You can book a consultation online or contact us on (03) 9455 1714.