If you've recently been given the sobering news that your eyes are beginning to experience the high pressure that can indicate glaucoma, you may be wondering how to proceed. Untreated, glaucoma is one of the world's leading causes of blindness, and even about 1 in 10 of those who receive adequate care for this condition could suffer permanent loss of vision. Despite your valid worries about what this glaucoma can mean for your vision, you may be reluctant to undergo an expensive and potentially painful procedure without a guarantee this will stop further damage. What are your most cost-effective long-term treatment options? Read on to learn more about pricing, timing, and the other factors you'll want to consider before undergoing glaucoma treatment.
How much do the different types of glaucoma treatments cost?
Because glaucoma comes in several different forms (including open angle, closed angle, and pigmentary), treatments can vary. However, in most cases, doctors will begin with the mildest and least invasive treatment first, only increasing the dose of medication or recommending surgery if the condition is progressing quickly or the patient isn't responding to the ordinary course of treatment. This can allow glaucoma to be successfully managed and monitored over the course of years without impacting your daily life.
However, when faced with the prospect of paying for daily-use eyedrops or oral medications compared with a one-time surgical fee, you may decide that you'll be able to recoup your costs more quickly by undergoing surgery. While you'll pay anywhere from $1,300 to nearly $5,000 to have glaucoma surgery performed, a portion of this cost should likely be covered by your vision or primary health insurance policy as long as it is deemed medically necessary and not experimental. You may also be able to have laser surgery performed at an outpatient center to reduce costs (and recuperation time) further. By making small surgical changes to your eye's drainage system, a surgeon can help permanently fix the issues causing your high eye pressure and eliminate the need for additional follow-up care or medications.
Although taking medications or using eyedrops to reduce the pressure on your optic nerve are usually an initially cheaper prospect, these costs can add up over time. Depending upon whether you're taking name-brand or generic medications, you could find yourself paying around $150 to more than $900 per year in prescription costs not covered by your health insurance. If these medications are effective in reducing your eye pressure and the other potentially harmful side effects of glaucoma, you may be able to wean yourself from them; but in other cases, you could be taking these medications for years on end and still eventually require surgery to preserve your vision. If you don't respond to these medications fairly quickly, discussing surgery with your doctor may be the right decision to save you money over time.
What else should you consider when deciding on a treatment plan?
While cost is a major consideration when undergoing (or forgoing) any medical procedure, there are important physical and logistical factors to take into account as well. For example, if you live alone and commute to work, you could find yourself facing an extended period of time in which you're unable to drive yourself after glaucoma surgery -- potentially reducing your income or even compromising your job. Those who have issues with short-term memory may find that remembering to take daily medication is a struggle. If you know there are some additional factors in your situation that can tip the scales toward medication or surgery, these factors could outweigh the financial benefits of the alternative path.
Talk with a doctor from a clinic like Country Hills Eye Center for more information on glaucoma treatment options.