According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. The most obvious symptom is clouded vision. The word “cataract” actually means “waterfall” because, with cataracts, it can seem like you’re looking through a sheet of water.
If you’re diagnosed with cataracts, this isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. According to the National Eye Institute, this condition is a normal part of the aging process and is common among people over age 60. As such, Medicare covers the surgery required to correct cataracts, as well as glasses or lenses if they are necessary after the surgery.
According to the American Optometric Association, there are different types of cataracts: nuclear, cortical, and posterior subcapsular cataracts. These are found on different parts of the eye. If you have multiple cataracts, doctors typically remove them one surgery at a time. Cataracts in your other eye may be removed at a different time as well.
In cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye that has the cataracts is removed and replaced by an artificial lens. The surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis, and only an ophthalmologist can perform this type of surgery.
Surgery isn’t necessarily the only way to deal with cataracts. Talk to your doctor about your options and what may be best for your situation.
Talk to your doctor if you think you have cataracts. Medicare doesn’t cover routine vision exams, but Medicare Part B does cover certain preventive and diagnostic eye exams. Ask your doctor if a diagnostic exam to check for cataracts would be covered by Medicare.
Some important things to know:
The Medicare Advantage (Part C) program also covers cataract surgery, since Medicare Advantage plans are required to offer at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. These plans may also include other benefits, like dental and hearing-related services, and sometimes provide more coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage (Original Medicare prescription coverage is limited), so they can give you health and medication benefits in one policy.
Some Medicare Advantage plans offer more complete vision coverage, such as routine eye exams and glasses (regardless of whether you’ve had cataract surgery). If you’d like help finding Medicare Advantage plan options that may include broader vision coverage, contact eHealth to speak with a licensed insurance agent today. Or, to start browsing plan options right away, just enter your zip code into the plan finder tool on this page.
For more information about how Medicare covers surgery to correct cataracts, you can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227, TTY users call 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
American Optometric Association, “Causes of cataracts.”
National Eye Institute, “Facts About Cataract.”
World Health Organization, “Priority eye diseases.”
To learn about Medicare plans you may be eligible for, you can: