Cataract Surgery In Singapore: What’s the Cost and Is It Necessary?

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘cataracts’ at some point in your life from an older relative or friend and are probably wondering – what is cataracts, and what are the treatments available out there?

FUN FACT: Approximately 95% of Singaporeans above 70 years of age, and 80% of those aged 60 and above have cataracts. For people aged 45 and above, 30% of Singaporeans have started developing cataracts too.

As we age, cataracts are becoming more prevalent and common in our community. However, there have been many cases where many adults are not aware of their eye conditions and do not know that they have started developing cataract too.

In this article, we aim to educate people about cataracts, the cost of cataract surgery in Singapore and whether cataract surgery is necessary to effectively treat patients with developing cataracts.

What Is Cataracts?

Cataracts is a condition where the lens of your eye becomes opaque and cloudy due to the accumulation of protein which affects the field of vision. Colour perception and contrast may also be affected when you have cataracts. It normally develops as we age as the lenses of our eyes become less transparent and thicker.

There are essentially three main types of cataracts:

  • Nuclear cataract: Commonly associated with old age. Develops in the nucleus of the eye lens.
  • Posterior sub-capsular cataract: Forms in the back of the eye lens. Often occurs with people who are diabetic or on long-term use of steroids.
  • Cortical cataract: Clouding occurs on the cortex or periphery of the eye lens.

To determine if you have any level of cataract for yourself, it’s highly recommended to visit an optometrist/eye specialist who can perform an eye examination to assess your overall eye health and eye condition and carry out any preventative measures to slow down the process of cataract development.

As we mentioned before, many people do not realize that they have already developed cataracts until their vision is severely impaired and it becomes very difficult to do daily activities such as reading and driving. Some symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Difficulty to see in dark/dim environments
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing a ‘film’-like, cloudy substance form in the eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Unable to see colours clearly
  • Double vision in either eye
  • Frequent changing of prescriptions to glasses and contact lenses

Cataracts in general do not cause pain or irritation to the eye – it usually only affects our vision.

However, if you do feel pain or pressure in the eye causing you to feel nausea, it might be an indication of something else.

What causes cataracts?

Once we hit 40 years old, it is natural for us to experience vision problems. As cataracts are a common eye problem related to ageing, it is more important for us to pay attention in eye care.

Besides ageing, there are many risk factors that can trigger cataracts, some of them include:

  • Family history
  • Genetics (congenital)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Trauma or inflammation to the eye
  • Eye surgery
  • High myopia
  • Steroids (oral, nasal, eye drops, etc)
  • Radiation (UV from sunlight and ionising from x-rays and gamma rays)

To tackle the problem of cataracts, frequent eye tests at your optometrist as soon as you reach the age of 40 is recommended. To ensure optimum eye health, ask for a full eye check-up to look out for any other eye conditions that can affect your vision in the long run such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinal tears.

This can help the eye surgeon conducting your cataract surgery to fix the problems simultaneously to reduce the dependency on steroids and improve your overall condition.

When to Get Cataract Surgery In Singapore: Is it Necessary?

So you’ve got your eyes checked and it’s confirmed by the eye specialist that you have cataracts – what now?

Many patients with cataract would avoid receiving cataract surgery if their cataracts do not affect their vision to the point where it makes it super difficult to do daily activities even with the help of prescription glasses or contact lenses. It’s important to note that with cataracts, your condition will only worsen with time. Hence, prevention is key!

To have cataract surgery, there is no ‘ideal’ age to undergo surgery. However, there is a general belief that the older you are, the higher the risk, especially if you have any other pre-existing medical conditions. There is nothing to worry about cataract surgery though; with the technology that we have today, cataract surgery in Singapore is safer than ever before – no matter the degree of cataract development, the eye lenses can be removed at any time at any stage.

Cataract surgery does not take long too and is relatively low-risk; it only consists of day surgery where it is performed during a day’s time and does not require any admission to the hospital. Patients can then return home after surgery and can return to their daily lives after a few days or weeks of rest.

There are two types of cataract surgery:

  • Micro-incision phacoemulsification surgery: Requires using ultrasound energy to liquify the cataract and then it is then removed through a tiny incision of 2-3mm. Does not require any stitching allowing for faster recovery.
  • Laser-assisted cataract surgery: Involves the use of a femtosecond laser to create the incision and fragment the cataract, allows for accurate lens positioning and is ideal for complex surgeries.

After removing the cataract, the cataract surgeon will carry out an intraocular lens implant in both eyes through small incisions of 2-3mm. Depending on the eye condition of each patient, either monofocal, multifocal or toric intraocular lens will be implanted. After the operation procedure, there is always the potential for refractive errors. Therefore, there may be a need for laser vision correction or continuous wear of glasses.

How Much Does Cataract Surgery In Singapore Cost?

According to the Ministry of Health, cataract surgery in public hospitals can cost up to SGD$1,269 for Singaporeans for one eye. This cost includes cataract surgery, lens implant and other miscellaneous fees.

If you decide to visit private hospitals in Singapore, cataract surgery can cost up to SDG$4,490 to SGD$ 10,000 for ONE eye. This price range is very dependent on the experience of the eye surgeon, the complexity of the eye condition, the eye examinations conducted, medication and type of intraocular lens implant.

As you can see, the cost of cataract surgery is extremely high. Fortunately, Singapore citizens can claim Medisave and insurance for cataract surgery. Medisave allows a maximum claim of SGD$2,450 for each eye. Most insurance policies in Singapore provide coverage for cataract surgery, but the claimable amount will depend on your insurance coverage policy.

Other Treatment Options For Cataracts In Singapore

There is no permanent treatment for cataracts other than undergoing surgery. However, there are a number of preventative measures that you can take to prevent and slow down the progression of cataracts. Many eye specialists refer to some of these options to help their patients deal with the condition, such as:

  • Regular eye examinations: Early detection of any alarming eye conditions by your optometrist or eye specialist can help patients which also helps in recovery
  • Wearing sunglasses: Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can speed up the development of cataracts. Wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UVB) rays outdoors can help prevent this.
  • A healthy diet of fruits and vegetables: Consuming fruits and vegetables with plenty of antioxidants can help maintain the health of our eyes.
  • Quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption: Eliminating smoking and alcohol can help make a difference and reduce the risk of cataracts.

To help with the condition, it’s very important to have a pair of glasses that have the right spectacle prescription to help clear your vision. At Your Eye Guardian, we have successfully helped many patients with cataracts find the right pair of eyeglasses and contact lenses that suit their budget and lifestyles. Don’t need to worry about not finding what you need here; over here, we take your eye health very seriously!

Check Your Eye Condition for Cataracts At Your Eye Guardian!

We understand that the sound of undergoing an operation procedure for cataract removal can be scary for many people. Hence, we advise every one of all ages to get their eyes regularly checked by an optometrist or optician as early detection can make it easier for decision making when it comes to your health.

Wearing the right prescription of glasses can help prevent cataracts. At Your Eye Guardian, we perform comprehensive eye screenings for all our customers to offer the best advice to ensure your vision is taken care of. We educate all our customers on the importance of eye care and provide only the best products while taking into consideration your health condition, the budget cost and lifestyle.

If any of your loved ones are showing early symptoms of cataracts, please bring them in for an eye check up! We take your eye health and eye care seriously – schedule an eye screening appointment at Your Eye Guardian and take care of your eyes now!