August 28, 2008 · Updated 2:12 PM
Back in May when I had my first cataract surgery, I told you that after Id had the other eye done, Id review the process, since this is an operation many seniors eventually need and know little about.
Its been a couple of months now, but I was waiting for the final paper work from Medicare and Kitsap Physicians Service on how much it costs.
Not that I had to pay anything. Medicare picks up 80 percent and KPS the remainder.
Theres nothing quite so heartening as when you get those monthly explanations of benefits and all the columns under Patient Responsibility read 0.00
Anyway, I encourage everyone who needs this to do it, assuming you have a good eye doctor. In my case, when I mentioned I was having cataract surgery to nurses in the offices of the other specialists I go to, they all asked who my doctor was.
When I told them, all said he was a good doctor. Nurses know from the medical grapevine and Im sure they wouldnt say hes good if they dont think so.
Im not naming my doctor for a reason Ill explain later on in this column.
Hes been keeping track of my cataracts for years and said in April that it was time.
There isnt much prep work to be done. I had the first surgery May 9, on my right eye.
You cant eat or drink on the day of surgery, other than taking necessary medicines.
There was no pain involved and the anesthetic was such that I was conscious throughout.
It took about 15 minutes. They keep you at the surgery center for a half hour to an hour before you can go home. You have to have a driver that day and the next when you go to the doctors office for a check up. You arent supposed to drink alcohol the night of the surgery and I didnt for the first one.
When I was getting ready for the second one, I asked my doctor why I couldnt have my usual couple of cocktails before dinner. It isnt that I cant live without it, I said, its just that I enjoy it every evening. He said he didnt see why not because the anesthetic would have totally worn off by then, but ask the anesthetist. I did. The anesthetist said no.
When I was getting on the operating table, I told my doctor I could see why he wanted me to ask the anesthetist because his answer was no.
It was? said my doctor. Well, Im countermanding that. You may.
And I did. So you can see why I dont want to name him. I dont want him criticized by some Carrie Nation among the medical community.
As for the aftermath, for each eye, you are on a regimen of eye drops, antibiotics to prevent infection, three different kinds that you use several times a day for four weeks.
My doctor advised me to keep the bottles in the refrigerator so when you use them, you know you hit the eye squarely with the eye dropper because the liquid is so cold. When I wrote that the first time, he wanted me to emphasize this time that refrigeration isnt necessary, just useful in your treatment.
As for the bills, I dont know Medicares totals, but KPS paid the surgery center $989.44 for the first operation and my doctor $633.99. In both cases the billing was much higher but Medicare sets whats allowable and those were the allowable figures.
My eyesight is much better and I can even read without glasses although I have had new prescriptions for new eyeglasses. My old ones work just as well but I got the new ones anyway because Medicare, which does not pay for eye exams to get glasses, does pay a portion of the cost of glasses following cataract surgery.
If youre headed for cataract surgery, fear not. Youll be glad you did it. I am.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.