Senior couple walking outside sunny day wearing sunglasses

Does Medicare cover cataract surgery?

Does Medicare cover cataract surgery - senior women with eye bandage

According to Medicare.gov, Medicare does cover cataract surgery “using traditional surgical techniques or using lasers.” Furthermore, if you have cataract surgery to implant an “intraocular lens,” Medicare helps you pay for corrective lenses. For example, Medicare part B pays 80% of the cost for corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses after cataract surgery. So what is cataract surgery?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

What is Cataract Surgery?

WebMD says a cataract is “a clouding of the eye lens that can make it hard for you to see.” As your cataract grows more cloudy, less light enters your eye, making your vision dim and blurred. It’s difficult for seniors with cataracts to see in low-light and increases glare from lights. For example, a cataract diminishes your night vision making driving at night difficult and dangerous. 

During the surgery, the surgeon cuts your cornea and inserts a needle-thin probe. Ultrasound waves transmit from the probe to break up the cataract and suck out the fragments. Then the surgeon implants the intraocular lens (IOL), which focuses light on your retina. The IOL becomes a permanent part of your eye. (Mayoclinic.org)

Does Medicare cover cataract surgery senior woman

Depending on your vision needs, your eye doctor will discuss different types of IOLs. What type of cataract surgery does Medicare Cover?

Medicare Cataract Surgery Coverage

Medicare traditionally covers cataract surgery using fixed-focus monofocal intraocular lens (IOL) implants. These IOL lenses have a single focus strength for distance vision. However, you may need eyeglasses for reading up close. Medicare covers 80% of your reading eyeglasses costs after cataract surgery. 

Medicare may not cover other types of intraocular lens (IOL) such as:

  • Accommodating-focus monofocal – you can shift focus using eye muscle movements to see objects near and far.
  • Multifocal – similar to bifocal or progressive lenses
  • Astigmatism correction (toric) – helps focus light on the retina to correct blurred vision at any distance.

However, paying for these upgraded IOLs can eliminate your need for reading glasses or other corrective lenses.

In the video above, Robert Bache says that Medicare does cover cataract surgery after you pay the Part B deductible. Furthermore, Medigap Supplements such as Plan G will pay your 20% coinsurance costs. Please watch the video to learn more.

Cataract Causes and Risk Factors

Senior woman takes pill with glass of water

According to Mayo Clinic, cataracts develop when aging or injury to your eye’s lens (cornea). In some cases, genetics can increase your risk for cataracts. Furthermore, diabetes and long-term use of steroid medications can lead to cataracts. For example, the long-term use of Prednisone can cause osteoporosis and cataracts. 

Risk Factors

Other factors that increase your risk for cataracts include:

  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Smoking
  • Obesity – discover if you’re obese (BMI calculator)
  • High blood pressure
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol

Cataract Prevention

Removing the above risk factors can help prevent cataracts. Thus, doctors recommend the following:

  • Annual eye exams – having your eyes examed every year can detect cataracts and other eye problems early
  • Quit smoking – Medicare helps you quit smoking
  • Avoid long-term corticosteroids use – to prevent cataracts and other side effects such a glaucoma
  • Wear sunglasses – please wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when you are outdoors
  • Eye protection – please wear protective eyewear while playing sports or whenever projectiles may fly into your eyes
  • Limit alcohol use – please limit alcohol intake to one drink for women and two drinks for men (DietaryGuidelines.gov)
Senior couple walking outside sunny day wearing sunglasses
Seniors wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays.

Eating a healthy diet may prevent cataracts

You may also reduce your cataract risk by consuming a healthy diet. American Optometric Association reports that “adding antioxidants to your diet can improve your eye health.” Several research studies show vitamins C and E may protect you against the development and progression of cataracts. 

Vitamin C

Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. For example, two foods with the highest amounts of vitamin C are sweet red peppers and oranges. Please eat fruits and veggies to protect against cataracts. Furthermore, heat destroys ascorbic acid (vitamin C), so please consume your fruits and veggies raw. 

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for seniors is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. However, seniors who smoke require an additional 35 mg per day. (NIH.gov)

Senior man holds oranges over eyes
Eating oranges can help prevent cataracts.

Vitamin E

Some oils, seeds, and nuts are excellent sources of vitamin E. There are eight natural forms of vitamin E, but only alpha-tocopherol meets human requirements. Synthetic vitamin E found in fortified American foods and supplements is half as biologically potent as natural vitamin E sources. (NIH.gov)

Food labels list natural sources of vitamin E as “d-alpha-tocopherol.” In contrast, synthetic vitamin E made in a laboratory is “dl-alpha-tocopherol.” The best foods of natural alpha-tocopherol are as follows: (NIH.gov)

  • Wheat germ oil 
  • Sunflower seeds 
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower oil
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanut butter and peanuts
Peanuts in a senior hand
Eat peanuts to help prevent cataracts.

The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is 15 mg (22.4 IU) for males and females.

Takeaways

Medicare does cover cataract surgery using traditional monofocal intraocular lens (IOL) implants. You can upgrade your IOL based on your vision needs. However, Medicare may not cover these other types of IOL lenses. Medicare does pay for 80% of your cataract surgery. Furthermore, Medigap Plans, such as Plan G, will cover the remaining 20% after paying the Part B deductible.

To avoid cataracts, please avoid behaviors that increase your risk for cataracts. For example, please avoid sunbathing, smoking, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Moreover, please eat foods rich in vitamins C and D.

Best Medicare Supplement Plan 2021 - get quote button
Get a Medigap Plan for full cataract coverage.

Thank you for reading this article. We publish new articles every week. Share your email and choose the Medicare topics you what to read, and we will send you new articles.

Medicare Reader Survey - senior couple reads article on ipad