Newly diagnosed with cataract

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I was diagnosed with the start of cataract in both eyes, with the right one more advanced but still mild adn the left one hardly there.   I'm seeing the eye people again later today to pick up my new glasses and discuss options with them re the right eye cataract and also for them toi check that a detached retina has healed itself, which I'm sure it has bc no symptoms for weeks now.

I'm concerned that I keep hearing "they" won't operate on cataracts until they're really bad, although this doesn't seem to apply to people with private health cover (in Australia).

What do people do in the meantime in this situation?   I live alone & fairly isolated and can't socialise at night any more without other people's help, bc oncoming headlights blind me.   I've had two falls on steps & stairs because my hand missed the right hand railing and I'm continually dropping, breaking and spilling things.l

I'm also VERY concerned that if this isn't fixed by next summer I won't be able to see to drive out of town in a bushfire situation, which is fairly common where I live and I can't stay in smoky conditions because I also have COPD.

I guess what I need to know is the delay in operating a medical issue or a financial one?  If the latter I will kick up a HUGE fuss!  Australia is supposed to be a "classless society"  but guess what, not always when it comes to medical treatmentF!

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  • Posted

    Apologies for the typo's:  one of the things I spilt was a glass of cider on the keyboard and I can't see what I've typed properly, depending on the light, which today is brignt  - spring has finally sprung in these mountains after a very cold winter
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  • Posted

    I'm in the UK and the situation seems to vary from area to area with the NHS. Opticians told me that my cataracys were developing but that I was a few years away from needing surgery.

    I had an eye appointment for another problem and was surprised to be asked if I wanted my cataracts done now or in the future. They were not causing me a problem but I chose the now option.

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  • Posted

    It is a financial saving. I go to a specialist eye hospital in the uk, with another problem. On one appointment, the consultant I was seeing, wasn't sure if I had a cataract at all. He called in the top Professor, who looked and said. Yes there is just a glimmer of the start of a cataract. We will get that off staight away. So it was done. But the point is, all the other 'eye specialists' were not even sure it there was a cataract at all. So they can be taken off in the earliest stages when they are only just forming. As a matter of interest too you. I did ask about having it done privately, and was quoted £1800. So if you are unable to get it done, that may be a consideration for you.

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    • Posted

      No way I could afford anything like that.   Good old class system alive and well eh?   

      I'm seeing my gp next week for a referral to an eye specialist and I'll be asking him to do a letter requesting it be attended to ASAP rather than I be put on a years long waiting list.   I want it sorted before next summer:  living in a high bushfire area is difficult enough at times without having to worry that I wouldn't be able to get out and away from the smoke if necessary.

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  • Posted

    A few decades ago surgeons needed to wait for a cataract to become bad, "ripe", before operating. With modern safer surgical techniques a cataract can be extracted at any time (though its actually safer to do so before it becomes too mature/"ripe" now, a point few people ever reach in developed countries). In fact some people without cataracts now get lens replacement surgery to correct their vision (though many of us would suggest they consider if the risks of even a safe procedure are worth the benefits since there are rare complications).

    The issue with insurance/government payment is that many cataracts don't have much of an impact on vision for many years (sometimes a decade or two), and elderly patients sometimes die therefore before the cataract is actually causing them problems so if they have surgery on an early cataract not causing trouble it may in turn out not to have been necessary in the long run. So they wish to wait until there is actually some noticeable visual impact before having surgery, with the guidelines varying by insurance or government entity throughout the world so you will need to check on your situation.

    For example here in the US a common standard is payment if an eye's best corrected  visual acuity is below 20/40 (i.e. even with glasses or contacts it isn't possible to see that well), which is what is usually the visual minimum required for a driver's licenses. *Some* payers are realizing that since cataracts can cause things like glare at night (with the added monetary pressure for them since it  can lead to accidents and more medical bills) it makes sense for them to cover surgery if there is any sort of visual impairment from the cataract that is interfering with normal functioning (like driving at night). So it is possible you may be in luck and the treatment may be covered now. I would suggest checking with whatever government or insurer is paying, a GP may not have reason to be up to date on the current rules. Even an eye doctor may not always know, though the staff might since  often they leave it to their staff to deal with payment issues.

    If you had the means to pay for it yourself without coverage then you should be able to find a surgeon who will operate whenever you want if you personally think your vision is problematic. 

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    • Posted

      Thanks for that detailed and informative response.   I see my gp tomorrow and hope to come out with more information.

      Insurance is not an issue as I don't have any, and nor is paying for it myself, so it will be a matter of dealing with the public health system to have the surgery quickly before my life is further restricted and endangered. 

      The procedure is covered by the public sysem, it will be a matter of how long the waiting list is to get an appointment with a specialist and then for the surgery itself.

      I'm hoping to find at least one other Australian on a pension with no insurance who's successfully negotiated the health system to get the surgery:  anyone out there, please?

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    • Posted

      Not if you have $!   To be fair, when I had a heart attack the ambulance, tests at first hospital, ambulance to second hospital, surgery to insert stent and stay in hospital were all entirely free.    Today I went to the Dental Hospital for new dentures and that will all be free too.

      Let's face it, in advanced countries none could be as bad as the US!  

      I'm grateful for the postivies but don't ignore the negatives ....

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    • Posted

      My heart valve replacement was free but I waited 15 months for it. It would have been about £28K privately and having waited so long I was considering it.

      We have to pay some charges for NHS dentistry but with most dentists (if you can still find an NHS one) they will not do work they lose money on. The NHS maximum cost for dentures is just over £250. I could not get on with an upper one I had years ago and asked about a light weight one. No way would they do that except privately for about £1000.

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    • Posted

      It sounds as if your NHS is defnitely deteriorating:  I was talking to a friend of mine whose family lived in the UK about 50 years ago and EVERYTHING dental was absolutely free, including complex orthodontic work, even for an Australian family working there for a year or so.

       

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    • Posted

      At the begining of the NHS we had many Australian dentists coming over to make their fortunes. I doubt if there was much complex orthodontic work then. My dentist would extract a tooth rather than do something like a root canal as it is too time comsuming for the payment she gets. 

      The trouble when the NHS started was everyone wanted at once everything they could not afford before. Nowadays few people would want glasses from the limited NHS range.

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    • Posted

      I reckon the Australian health system isn't that different to the NHS except it's much more fragmented.  GP visits can be bulkbilled to Medicare for people with health care cards (pensioners, unemployed etc) and at many clinics to everyone.   Public hospitals are free, as are ambulances for health care holders, but both are under-resourced.

      Medical specialists can be seen at public hospitals for nothing, but there's often a waiting list and to see them privately costs an arm and a leg because the greedy pigs charge heaps more than the government covers.

      Dental care is all over the place and for some reason teeth are seen differently to all other body parts and not covered by Medicare:  the only political party with a policy to include teeth with everything else is the Greens.  There are community health dental clinics which vary in how much they charge (they used to be free) and in Melbourne a really good Dental Hospital:  I was there yesterday for new dentures and received excellent treatment by final year students under supervision.

      Community Health Centres have free or low cost physiotherapy, some have low cost podiatry but it all depends where you live.   Some counselling used to be available via Medicare but this has been cut back from 20 sessions a year to 12 and is now at 6.   

      Eye examinations are bulk billed and low cost glasses are available at least in Victoria from a college attached to the university.

      Lots of prescription drugs are subsidised at $6.50 each for health card holders - again this used to be the "free list" but is slowly creeping up and up.

      So it's very fragmented and sometimes it works really well (eg emergency heart surgery) and sometimes very badly.

       

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    • Posted

      For Brits visting Australia there is very limited reciprocal health care but my cardiologist tells me that I would be covered for existing conditions in New Zealand. I told him that I'd sooner go back to OZ than New Zealand as we thoroughly covered there and only scratched the surface of Australia..
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