Why does cataract surgery cost what it does?

Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure in the world. As ageing typically causes cataracts, they are very common. The costs of cataract surgery varies between £1,200 and £3,450 per eye in UK, and will often be more expensive in London than in other areas.

The price depends on three major factors: the surgeon’s fees, the facility fees and the type of lens you need / choose.

A surgeon will typically set their fees based on the expertise and experience they bring to the speciality. Whilst the relationship isn’t always linear, you can sometimes assume that the higher a surgeon’s fees, the more experience and expertise they offer. One can also make this assumption on the basis of where the surgeon did their training. For example, you can likely rest assured that surgeons that receive their training at Moorfields Eye Hospital are well qualified cataract surgeons that exceed the standards for most private cataract surgeons.

Prices typically include a pre-operative assessment, where the cataract surgeon measures your eye and vision to carefully choose the right artificial lens. The cataract surgery itself, which usually takes about 30 minutes and requires special instruments that use ultrasound (sound waves) to break-up the lens. Furthermore, packages typically include aftercare, which comprises of eye drops against swelling and often eye protections, such as eye shields, which are recommended for sleeping and should also provide a postoperative visit to insure the customers satisfaction of the result.

Facilities make a difference to cost as well. Choosing to have your private cataract surgery in central London will likely be more expensive that getting cataract surgery outside of London. Private facilities tend to offer amenities that are not available on the NHS, which typically are not related to the standard of medical care, but are more related to patient convenience, comfort and privacy.

Premium lenses can significantly affect costs. There are lenses that are best suited for those who want to correct their presbyopia (reading vision), distance vision problems, and for astigmatism. The upside of spending extra for these lenses means that you might not need eyeglasses in the future. This decreases your long-term costs drastically in comparison to the cost of glasses and / or contact lenses for different distances, that you might have needed before the cataract surgery took place, and after cataract surgery if you did not choose premium lenses.

Even though there are many advances procedures that most insurance companies refuse to cover, as they do not consider them as compulsory, many insurance companies are paying at least for the basic portion of cataract surgery if certain conditions apply. Check that your surgeon is fee assured by your insurance company, which may be able to cover most or all of your cataract surgery procedure.