The price of cataract surgery: How much does it really cost?

Unlike the price of Lasik and other refractive treatments using excimer (Lasek, PRK…), the price of cataract surgery is not as visible on advertisement and on ophthalmological clinics (*See note under). Without further detail, this invisibility will make harder to compare prices from the different clinics that we are considering to get operated in. If we wish to know the cost of this surgery we would need to do more than just visit the clinic website.

Obviously, cataract surgery prices vary between different clinics. In the case of a private clinic, patients can choose between all the IOL-options presented by the ophthalmologist (monofocal aspheric, multifocal…). In these cases the price of cataract surgery depends substantially on the type of intraocular lens implanted.

In the following section we are going to explain the factors, that affect the price of this surgery in order to allow you have a wider knowledge.

Factors that affect on the Price of Cataract Surgery:

General factors:

-Technology:

In modern ophthalmology, technology plays a critical role. It is not possible to offer high level cataract surgery without the latest advances. The equipment used in ophthalmology has a very high cost and is a huge investment for the clinics, that is why this factor has a high impact on overall prices.

– Professional staff training:

As in every sector maintainig an experienced well-trained professional team is an important cost factor. Continuous education costs a lot of money and requieres constant effort in human resources..

– Premises/Location:

Location, design, size of a clinic greatly vary from one ophthalmological clinic to another. Also practical aspects play an important role like offering all testing and finally the surgery on-site without any further displacements. These are price sensitive aspects.

– Service:

Offering a personalised service with a short waiting list means an important and direct increase in cost for the clinic, since this service is only possible if the clinic limits the number of patients to its real capacity. This means that the clinic have less patients that it could have if the clinic were crowded and, as a consequence, less income. This increases the cost per patient.

Specific factors:

– Pre-operatory exams:

Before the cataract surgery, the patient needs to take a complete ocular exam. It is necessary to know your eyes health, what type of intraocular lens you need and calculate as exact as possible the power of that lens. An important advantage to optimally achieve these three objectives is providing specific equipment and diagnosis tools.

  • An OCT for the retina analysis can give a lot of information to know if a patient is a good candidate for multifocal lenses.
  • Corneal topograph-topometer, Aberrometer…having the equipment that allows to make corneal exams as well as to examine the eye optical system is essential for being more precise in the calculus of the intraocular lens because they achieve more precise results than ultrasound measuring.
  • The calculus of the intraocular lens through Ray-Tracing Method and the use of last generation mathematic formulas.

Any clinic that possesses the equipment or uses the calculus techniques mentioned earlier have additional costs.

– Intraoperative factors:

  • The current technique used in most of the cataract surgery clinics is phacoemulsification (crystalline is emulsified with an ultrasonic handpiece and aspirated). On the ophthalmologist market there are many manufacturers of a phacoemulsifier (machine used for phacoemulsification). There have been a lot of improvements and obviously price varies as well. A machine of the latest technology is very advantageous for the patient as it allows a more precise and softer technique, increasing safety.
  • The latest technology is the use of a femtosecond laser in surgery. This laser assists in several steps of the cataract surgery. Makes incisions and opens the crystalline anterior capsule, with a precision that cannot be achieved manually. After that, it fragments the cataract, what reduces the use of ultrasounds and less energy is applied on the interior of the eye. The surgery with femtosecond laser is considered to be softer, more precise and safer.
  • During surgery, the surgeon uses different materials and instruments. There are different prices and qualities on the market with their respective costs. It is more expensive to always use disposable elements that others than can be sterilised and reused.

These variables normally go unnoticed by patients but their impact on the price can be very high.

– Intraocular Lens:

Within this portal you can get information about a large numger of different intraocular lenses on the market, all of them with their own characteristics. Prices range enormously from standard to premium lenses. Even among premium lenses they vary a lot. The latest lenses offer advantages such as being preloaded, needing smaller incisions for insertion, having more sophisticated optical designs, etc.

The easiest cost to know is that of the intraocular implant used, as it is only needed to analyse the price you are given for different types of implants.

CONCLUSIONS:

In general, all factors that we mentioned earlier affect the price of cataract surgery. In any case, the clinic with the lowest price does not need to be necessarily the one with the worst quality, and the other way round. However, there are many costs that cannot be avoided if we want to offer the highest quality and that will ultimately increase the price.

As always, do not hesitate to ask us any question you may have or check our forum

* Note: Sometimes there is no precise information on specific excimer laser techniques or the laser equipment used on it. We only know the real price of the surgery that the patient needs, once he visited the clinic and selecting the surgery technique employed.

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