Medicare patients now have access to toric IOLs

Washington, DC-A Jan. 22 ruling by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gives Medicare beneficiaries undergoing cataract surgery the option to have a toric IOL implanted.

Washington, DC-A Jan. 22 ruling by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gives Medicare beneficiaries undergoing cataract surgery the option to have a toric IOL implanted.

Patients who choose the option will pay the difference between customary reimbursement for cataract surgery with implantation of a conventional IOL and the costs associated with the toric IOLs, which correct for astigmatism. The election is similar to CMS' ruling in May 2005 that allowed patients to select presbyopia-correcting IOLs and pay the additional cost ("Medicare patients can seek presbyopia-correcting IOLs," Ophthalmology Times, June 15, 2005, Page 1).

CMS indicated that it would provide Medicare contractors with additional guidance, such as a listing of the specific IOLs affected by the ruling. That documentation was not finalized and released as of late February. However, two manufacturers of toric IOLs-Alcon Laboratories Inc. (AcrySof) and STAAR Surgical Co.-will be included on the list and have issued statements.

David Bailey, president and chief executive officer of STAAR Surgical, noted that his company's toric IOL was the first launched in the United States, in 1998.

"We are very pleased with the CMS ruling," he said in a prepared statement.

Although Advanced Medical Optics Inc. does not offer a toric IOL, a company spokesman praised the ruling.

"We think this ruling is positive because it reinforces the importance of correcting astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery and is consistent with the CMS' previous ruling for presbyopia-correcting IOLs, allowing patients to have access to these new technologies," said AMO spokesman Steve Chesterman.