CMS ruling, new products make 2005 another banner year for cataract surgery advances

December 1, 2005

Advances in techniques and technology for cataract surgery and IOL implantation have continued through the past year. Those innovations combined with changes in reimbursement have improved the practice setting, contributed to an overall air of increased optimism among ophthalmologists, and have made the contemporary era of cataract surgery more of a golden age than ever before, said I. Howard Fine, MD, reflecting on the state of cataract surgery as the year 2005 nears its end.

Advances in techniques and technology for cataract surgery and IOL implantation have continued through the past year. Those innovations combined with changes in reimbursement have improved the practice setting, contributed to an overall air of increased optimism among ophthalmologists, and have made the contemporary era of cataract surgery more of a golden age than ever before, said I. Howard Fine, MD, reflecting on the state of cataract surgery as the year 2005 nears its end.

Top billing for balanced billing

He also noted that the decision will dramatically change ophthalmic practice and have a ripple effect in other medical specialties.

"I expect we will see a transition from our current model of high-volume, efficient, low-cost care to a system of high-quality, personalized, patient-paid care that will have benefits for patients, physicians, and industry," Dr. Fine said. He is also a founding member of the Oregon Eye Associates, and in private practice with Drs. Fine, Hoffman, and Packer.

Dr. Olson also applauded the decision on balanced billing because it removes what has been a major hindrance to the market success of presbyopia-correcting lenses and allows ophthalmologists to offer their older cataract patients value-added surgery. However, he cautioned that the profession will be under close scrutiny to see how this opportunity is used and whether it is abused.

"We have to be careful not to oversell these lenses and not to overcharge for them because we are under the eye of watchdogs. If we treat this opportunity correctly, however, there is the potential for this decision to set a precedent that could expand into a host of exciting things," said Dr. Olson, The John A. Moran Presidential Professor and Chairman of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Director, John A. Moran Eye Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City.