Cataracts are common as people age, but surgery can often correct a person’s vision. Although a mono-focal lens is the conventional choice for many cataract surgeries, multi-focal lenses are often desirable for their versatility.

Differences Between a Multi-Focal and Mono-Focal Lens

The most common type of lens used in cataract surgery is the mono-focal lens. The name indicates that it has only one focusing distance, but that distance can come in one of three styles: long distance, intermediate and near. Many people who choose a mono-focal lens will choose the long distance focus and use corrective eyewear to help them with intermediate and near focal points after the surgery.

With a multi-focal lens, there’s no need to choose because the lens offers all three focusing distances in one lens. The advantages are easy to understand, but certain disadvantages exist with this choice, too. People who choose a multi-focal lens may experience a higher degree of difficulty seeing contrast in low light and, at night, may see halos around bright lights that can distort their vision, especially while driving.

The best way to determine which type of lens may be best for your needs is to discuss your lifestyle with your physician. This can help you identify any vulnerabilities that may mean a multi-focal lens will prove more disruptive to your vision than a mono-focal lens. If you primarily drive at night or spend a lot of time reading up close, you may need to consider your lens options carefully.

Medicare Coverage for Multi-Focal Lens for Cataract Surgery

Medicare recipients may be familiar with the fact that Original Medicare benefits do not include routine vision care, which includes yearly eye exams and prescription eyewear. However, Medicare benefits do offer some coverage for treating cataracts, including surgery and corrective eyewear after that surgery. Medicare recipients may still need to satisfy certain cost-sharing obligations unless they have enrolled in a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan that includes Original Medicare copays, coinsurances and deductibles with its monthly premium.

Coverage for cataract surgery does depend on the type of lens used during the procedure, and at present, a multi-focal lens is not considered medically necessary when compared to a conventional, or mono-focal, lens. Medicare recipients who prefer a multi-focal lens may face higher out-of-pocket costs, such as covering the full cost of services from the facility, the physician and any medications used during the procedure.

Medicare recipients who choose a conventional lens will likely only pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for Part B as a coinsurance unless they have additional coverage with a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan that pays it for them, instead. Corrective glasses after every cataract surgery are treated as durable medical equipment, so fall under Part B’s DME coinsurance and deductible rules.

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