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Costs soar when cataract surgery is delayed

(NC) A recent 13-year U.S. study shows that cataract surgery saves about $46 for every dollar it costs.

The savings created by the surgery are due in part to the prevention of other health problems associated with poor vision like depression, hip fractures from falls, and early nursing home admissions. Comparable Canadian studies have produced similar findings.

“We know that bad things happen to people when they can't see,” says Dr. Tim Hillson, chair of the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. “But it is really interesting to have a hard number on what it costs society when we don't help these patients with their vision”.

The study's release is timely in Ontario, where province-wide cuts in recent months have increased wait times for patients needing cataract surgery. The cuts are a measure taken by the Ontario Ministry of Health to reduce overall health care costs.

“I'm not sure how much will be saved by making patients wait longer to be able to see,” Dr. Hillson points out. “We know for sure now that anything saved by delaying surgery is more than made up by the negatives that happen to patients as they wait, the evidence has shown us that.”

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