Additional cataract surgery funding urged for N.S.
Fund soft replacement lens, say ophthalmologists
Eye specialists say the Nova Scotia government is falling behind other provinces when it comes to funding cataract surgeries by only paying for one type of replacement lens.
Dr. Dan Belliveau, a Halifax-based ophthalmologist, said the government pays for the operation but will only cover the price of hard replacement lens.
Belliveau said hard replacement lens are obsolete and he recommends soft ones to his patients.
"You can insert this lens into a smaller incision and you're not contributing to astigmatism after surgery," he told CBC News.
"It also decreases the inflammation so it tends to heal a little quicker."
The Department of Health and Wellness, however, argues the medical outcomes of the two lenses are virtually the same.
Dave Wilson, the Minister of Health and Wellness, said the province already pays for about 10,000 cataract surgeries a year and covering the more expensive soft lens would cost too much.
"I recognize there are options for Nova Scotians that may want to choose a different device, so a soft lens for example in the surgery," he said.
"They can have that option if they choose to cover the cost of the soft lens."
Belliveau said one way to stretch health-care dollars is to farm out the surgeries to private clinics.
"In the last two weeks, the Minister of Health in Ontario just announced that all the cataract surgeries in the province, there will be a request for proposals for those surgeries to be performed outside the hospitals because they've realized it's a lot more cost effective," he said.
Wilson said the same move is unlikely in Nova Scotia.