Cataract – Causes, Symptoms, Surgery and Insurance Coverage

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Eye treatment and surgeries seem like necessities rather than a luxury. Still, all eye-related treatments are not covered by health insurance providers. Cataract surgery, however, is covered as a basic benefit by most of the top health insurance providers in the UAE. The details, of course, are different for every provider but almost all health insurance in the UAE cover cataract surgeries. Let us get to know a little more about cataracts, the potential causes, symptoms, and the elements that basic health insurance in UAE would cover for cataract surgery.

What is a Cataract? What are the Causes and Symptoms?

Generally common among older people, cataract is a condition where the lens of the eye gets covered with a cloudy area. This results in vision impairment at first and then partial or complete blindness, if not treated. A cataract is rarely seen in young people and it dominates the demographic of people over 50 years of age. Although age is not the only reason for the cataract to develop. There are several reasons and habits due to which cataracts can make an appearance.

Causes of cataract

  • Aging
  • Diabetes – any kind
  • Smoking
  • Ultraviolet Radiations (UV Rays)
  • Elongated Steroid use or form of medications
  • Overproduction of oxidants in the body
  • Eye injuries
  • Any kind of radiation therapy

Potential symptoms pointing at cataract

  • Troubled vision during nighttime
  • Blurry vision in general
  • Glare sensitivity – more than normal
  • Faded or faulty color vision
  • Double vision
  • A halo-like structure around lights
  • Frequently changing prescription glasses

What are the types of Cataracts?

Listed following are the different types of cataracts that one needs to look out for during their lives. Each one has a different development rate and affected areas:

  • Nuclear Cataracts: Generally, gathers in the middle of the lens of the eye and turns the nucleus of the eye yellow or brown
  • Cortical Cataracts: Circles the nucleus and is wedge-shaped.
  • Posterior Capsular Cataracts: It mostly affects the back of the eye instead of the outer parts like the lens itself. It develops faster than other types of cataracts.
  • Congenital Cataracts: It is the only kind of cataract that is present in the person right from birth.
  • Secondary Cataracts: These cataracts are classified as the ones that have been caused as a result of some other health condition such as diabetes, etc.
  • Traumatic Cataracts: These cataracts are the ones caused because the eyes went through some sort of trauma or injuries in the past.
  • Radiation Cataracts: These cataracts can form if one goes through some kind of radiation therapy for example chemotherapy for cancer.

What are the types of Cataracts Surgeries?

  • Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery: This is the most commonly practiced surgery to treat cataracts. Small incisions are made on the cornea of the eye using a blade and the cataract is broken down and removed.
  • Extracapsular Cataract Surgery: Quite similar to Phacoemulsification surgery, Extracapsular Cataract Surgery also includes incisions to remove the cataract. But here, the incisions are slightly bigger.
  • Bladeless Cataract Surgery: As the name suggests, there are no blades and incisions involved in this process.

Preventive measures for Cataracts

There are a few things you can incorporate in your life to prevent cataracts from developing. Given following are some of the top preventive measures you can try:

  • Always wear sunglasses when you step out in the sun.
  • Avoid smoking
  • Opt for regular eye check-ups if you face eye-related issues often.
  • Choose to eat and drink healthily. Include green leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet to make sure your eyes stay healthy.
  • If you are diabetic and overweight, try to exercise a little more and avoid high-sugar food items.
  • Anti-oxidants are important so make sure that food items rich in them are a part of your daily food intake.
  • Keep your sugar level in check  
  • Protect eyes from any kind of major injury – as much as you can.

Is Cataract Surgery Necessary? Why?

Surgery is the only known treatment for cataracts. There are no natural treatments available. This means that if you have a cataract and it worsens over time, you may get partially or completely blind. This makes cataract surgery very important for patients. It will not only successfully restore your vision but will also improve your quality of life. This simply means that if you have a cataract at any stage of your life, it is better to opt for cataract surgery as soon as possible. Unlike in the past, the surgery can be done anytime regardless of the stage of the cataract. So, you do not have to wait for the cataract to become ripe.

Is there a waiting period for Cataract Surgery Coverage in Health Insurance Plans?

Some services and benefits of an insurance plan come with an initial waiting period, for example, critical illness cover. The waiting period can range from 30 days to a year or two. The presence or absence of a waiting period for cataract surgery cover depends on the insurance company and its terms. Most insurance companies come with a 2-year-long waiting period. However, there are insurance companies that do not apply a waiting period on cataract surgery coverage at all. You can easily find out the presence of the waiting period by studying the basic benefits of any health insurance plan. It is usually stated right with the coverage type.

Do Group Health Insurance Plans Also Cover Cataract Surgery?

Yes, there are a few group health insurance plans that cover cataract surgery. However, it completely depends on the insurance provider of the group health insurance plan of your company. You can check with the HR department of your firm to make sure that the group insurance plan you have covers insurance.

How can I Claim Cataract Surgery in my Health Insurance Plan?

You can claim for your cataract surgery in either of the two basic ways – reimbursement or direct cashless claim. Using the cashless claim process, you can have the insurance company pay directly for the surgery when it takes place. Reimbursement claims can be used to settle the cost of the surgery later on. However, you must ask your insurance and confirm the available options for claims. If cashless claims are not available for surgery, you can go for a reimbursement claim. Either way, make sure that you inform the insurance company well in advance so that claims are approved as soon as make them. Insurance companies generally prefer to get informed about 30 days in advance.

Cataract surgery FAQs

Q. Will all insurance providers cover my cataract surgery?

Ans: It is highly plausible that almost all insurance providers will cover your cataract surgery however, the level and type of coverage may be different for each provider. Some insurance companies offer cataract surgery cover as a basic plan benefits while others may offer it as an add-on. The coverage can also differ as per the plan that you have chosen. It is probable that cataract surgery is covered in one plan and not in the others.

Q. Does having diabetes necessarily mean that I will develop cataracts?

Ans: Having diabetes can increase the risk of developing a cataract but do not necessarily make it a certainty. You need to be careful though but with following a few preventive measures, you can make sure that cataract is not a part of your life.

Q. Are there any add-ons available for cataract surgeries in health insurance plans?

Ans: The insurance providers that do not cover cataract surgery as a basic benefit, offer it as an add-on benefit at times. Although you will need to confirm with the insurance company as the type of add-ons completely depend on them.

Q. Do I need to undergo cataract surgery?

Ans: Cataract can be prevented if you follow the preventive measures well in advance. However, if the condition starts to develop, the only way to rid of it is by getting surgery. You can decide on when you would like to have the surgery though.

Q. Can I get a cataract due to excessive sun exposure?

Ans: Yes, excessive sun and UV radiation exposure can cause cataracts. Wearing protective blue-light filter glasses can help in preventing that.

Q. Does co-pay apply to cataract surgery coverage in my health insurance plans?

Ans: Co-pay may be applicable on cataract surgery just like any other benefit of your health insurance plan. However, the amount/percentage and the presence depend on the individual terms of each plan. There are health insurance plans where co-pay does not apply at all.

Q. How much does cataract surgery cost?

Ans: Cataract surgery in UAE can cost about AED 5000 to AED 8000 on an average per eye depending on the hospital or the clinic that you choose and the type of surgery.  

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