By Ronald P. Snyder, OD, FAAO
Jan. 25, 2023
Cataracts are an inevitability for most people if they live long enough. As something that most of your patients will eventually be diagnosed with, it is your responsibility as a doctor to provide a high level of care and education to these patients. Providing great service to cataract patients also is a tremendous practice-building opportunity.
Here is what I have found to be the two most important actions you can take to ensure cataract patients have a positive experience with the procedure and with your practice.
Tip # 1: Start Educating & Preparing Patients for Likely Costs
Most often, when a patient with cataracts is first seen at a surgeon’s office, they are presented with several options, some of which they may not be able to afford at that time. Most single-vision IOLs are covered by Medicare or private insurance. However, specialty IOLs, such as torics or multifocals, are not covered by insurance.
My tip to a co-managing OD is to become proactive, so if you first diagnose cataracts 1-2 years prior to making the referral, you should prepare the patient for the possibility that the best vision correction option may be a toric or multifocal IOL.
Explain that there is an additional cost for these specialty IOLs, which are most likely not covered by insurance. This will give your patients more time to save up the money, so they can have the best IOL option.
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Tip #2: Provide Visual Solution for Gap Between Surgeries on Each Eye
This tip is from my recent personal experience with cataract surgery. Most cataract surgeons prefer to wait for a period of 1-2 weeks between the surgery on the first eye and the second eye. For those patients who are accustomed to wearing eyeglasses full time prior to surgery, the two-week gap between surgeries can cause significant visual discomfort. It may be difficult for the patient to coordinate the vision between the newly operated eye with the untreated eye.
This problem can be offset by prescribing a single-vision plano lens, or even a plano progressive lens, for the eye that is scheduled for surgery, at least a week prior, as the old lens will cause blurry vision post-surgery. I recommend that this lens be inserted in the patient’s frame one day prior to the surgery. I suspect that you can come up with a creative method to offset the cost of the lens. The three-month post-op visit is an ideal time to prescribe the final Rx.