Dropless Cataract Surgery Could Save Medicare Billions

Dropless cataract surgery is nothing new.  In fact, many ophthalmologist have been using intra-operative antibiotic treatment for many years now citing improved results and reduced cases of post-op infections.

A new study reported by Business Wire shows that as this dropless cataract surgery options becomes more popular it could save Medicare and Medicaid more than $7 billion over the next ten years.  Patients could save as well.  As much as $1.4 billion by eliminating the need for post-op eye drops that they have to use for the next month.

Cataract surgery is one of the most preformed surgeries in the United States today.  According to Business Wire, Medicare and Medicaid will fund more than 38 million cataract surgeries over the next ten years.

Under the current model, the cataract surgeon removes the cataract lens of the eye and implants a intra-ocular lens in it's place.  While the average surgery time is typically under ten minutes, the patient must use prescription eye drops for the next 3-4 weeks.  These drops typically consist of:

  • 1 prescription antibiotic eye drop
  • 1 prescription steroid eye drop
  • 1 prescription NSAID eye drop (varies among surgeons)

These prescription eye drops comes with an additional cost to both the patient and to Medicare. The report claims that post-op eye drops cost Medicare currently $323 per eye.  Where as the dropless cataract surgery, although not covered by Medicare at this time, is priced at $100 per eye - 70% lower than the current model.

Medicare has already taken to cutting it's expenses regarding cataract surgery by reducing surgeons compensation for this procedure dramatically over the years.  This study opens the door for possible Medicare savings, but more importantly to offer the patient a better, more cost efficient cataract surgery option.