Foldable lenses for cataract patients in B.C. now covered

Foldable monofocal lenses now the standard of care for cataract surgeries, rather than rigid lenses

Cataract patients now receive foldable intraocular lenses free of charge as of June 4, 2012.

After reviewing usage data – and discussing with ophthalmologists, clinical experts and patients – the Province  decided to make foldable monofocal lenses the standard of care for cataract surgeries, rather than rigid lenses.

This decision will save cataract patients a significant amount of money, the majority of whom are seniors. Previously, patients purchased lenses directly from their surgeons at a range of prices from $210 to $500. These lenses will now be provided by health authorities free of charge.

In addition to covering foldable lenses, health authorities will also be offering specialty lenses, such as multifocals, at a standard, reduced price. The price will depend on the specific type of lens. Plus, patients who choose specialty lenses will only have to pay the cost difference between the price of the lenses they choose and the foldable monofocal lens.

In December 2011, the government of B.C. announced standardized pricing for foldable lenses, based on bulk buying power of B.C.’s six health authorities. Health Shared Services BC now manages the supply of lenses in British Columbia to ensure taxpayers pay the lowest rate possible for these products. HSSBC is working on a direct purchasing agreement with existing suppliers to determine the price for any specialty lenses.

Patients scheduled for cataract surgery prior to June 4 may wish to discuss these changes with their surgeons. The ministry will not be reimbursing patients who had surgery before June 4.