Advancements: Office-based Cataract Surgery
Posted by: Clear Vision Cataract & LASIK Center
Are you a candidate for cataract surgery in Detroit?
Progress: we see it all around us. Cars have become safer (and even electrified), phones have gained powerful cameras, and medical advances have allowed for longer lifespans and improved quality of life. Similarly, cataract surgery has come a long way in the past 40 years. Modern cataract surgery was developed in the 1970s by Dr. Charles Kelman, a famed ophthalmologist. Prior to the invention of this ultrasound technique known as phacoemulsification, those needing cataract surgery required deep anesthesia and a hospital stay. This new, ultrasound-based technique allowed for tiny incisions that healed faster and with improved visual outcomes, albeit while still needing glasses. Further advances in laser and corrective lens technology over subsequent years allowed us to improve the procedure even further, allowing cataract patients to have the procedure in more comfortable ambulatory care centers instead of hospitals, and obtain excellent vision without glasses.
Now, as I write this in 2023, we are at a crossroads once again, as further gains in technology allow us to safely perform the procedure in the office-based setting. How is this possible? Using a combination of laser-guided eye tracking, even smaller incisions, and newer ultrasound technology, the procedure has become even faster and less invasive than before, allowing it to be safely performed in an office procedure suite. At the Clear Vision Center, we have pioneered office-based cataract surgery in Michigan by building a state-of-the-art procedure suite in our office that follows outpatient surgery center standards for sterilization and ventilation, ensuring this is as safe as having it in the hospital, perhaps even safer. And with investments in the most modern surgical technology available, we ensure your procedure has maximal efficacy, safety, and comfort.
Is office-based surgery safe?
In 2016, a study was published by Kaiser Permanente Colorado reporting their results of over 21,000 cataract surgeries that were performed over a four year period in an office-based surgery center at one their medical centers. Their conclusions could not be clearer: “Office-based efficacy outcomes were consistently excellent, with a safety profile expected of minimally invasive cataract procedures performed in ASCs and HOPDs [hospitals].” When built properly and operated under stringent standards, office-based surgery is just as safe as that done in a hospital.
Why have office-based cataract surgery?
While having surgery in a mega-center like an ASC or hospital may seem more comforting, there are potential downsides too. At an ASC or hospital, you will need to separately register at the facility prior to having surgery, which means paperwork, getting your insurance re-verified, etc. You’ll also be working with unfamiliar staff whom you’ve never met before, all on the day you’re having perhaps your most important sense (your vision) fixed. You’ll also need to have an IV placed for strong medications, which really aren’t necessary for modern cataract surgery. This also generates multiple bills from not only the physician performing the procedure, but the facility itself and anesthesiology providers. When performed in an office-based surgery center, we are able to simplify the entire process. You’ll go to the same location as your clinic appointment and work with our same staff, which means you’ll know exactly where to be on the day of your surgery, won’t need to register again, or give your entire story to another group of individuals on the day of your procedure. We also are able to avoid IV sedation, so no needle sticks! Instead, we utilize oral valium to relax you for the procedure, which helps speed your recovery time. And lastly, by consolidating your services, you’ll only receive one bill for the entire experience.
Is office-based cataract surgery covered by insurance?
For the most part, yes. The professional fee from the surgeon is the same whether you are having surgery at our office or the hospital, and this component is fully covered by insurance in most cases. While Medicare and other insurance plans continue to evaluate office-based cataract surgery’s impact on their bottom-line, they still do not provide full facility payment for services performed in an office-based suite. While we anticipate this changing as payers catch up with the times, currently this does result in a modest cost-share copay for the patient. Since you will be accessing modern technology such as laser-guided surgery in the office, which is not yet available in our local ASCs or hospitals, we truly believe you’ll find your experience (and vision) to be worth the extra investment. Just ask one of our recent patients: read testimonial.
In summary, we believe it’s time to move on from cataract surgery circa 1980 and upgrade to a more modern, custom experience with office-based cataract surgery. If you’re considering cataract surgery, contact us today to learn more how you can benefit from this modern approach and can schedule a consultation. We look forward to seeing you soon!