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keyman

Lens Replacement Surgery Trip Report

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The Decision

A few months ago I looked into the possibility of laser eye surgery. I’ve been wearing glasses for a long time, mainly for short distance as my long sight was fine. It used to piss me off always having to take a pair of specs with me even when just popping down the pub or going out for a meal as I couldn’t read a menu. Even more annoying was going somewhere and forgetting them! I googled laser eye surgery and a company in the UK called Optical Express (OE) appeared as a likely candidate for my hard earned cash. They offer a free 3 hour consultation at a nearby location, and along with the consultation to discuss the best option, they also email you a document of the results, including full colour scans of your eyes. 

It was a very, very thorough examination and although the sales pitch was there, it wasn’t the hard sell ‘you must sign before you leave’ type. I had hoped I would be suitable for the least expensive option of £595 per eye. Unfortunately, due to my age and what was required, the only option open for me was the most expensive at £3495 per eye, which is lens replacement surgery. As any sane person would say,  “I’ll think about it”.

So I left and went home. By the time I arrived the emailed document was already there. It gave a hell of a lot of information and having now had the operation in Thailand, I’m sure the checks they carried out here were thorough, but not as thorough as OE. They did test that I was right for what was required and explained the procedures, but they certainly didn’t supply all the info that OE did. Perhaps they had it but don’t present it the same way, I don’t know. Perhaps from the information I supplied them already, they didn’t feel the need to give me anything else.

Anyway, over the next few days and weeks OE contacted me to discuss if I was taking it forward and offered different payment options. I explained it was not a problem with the repayments, only that the capital sum was high. This led them to offer me a discount, but only a few hundred quid. By this time I had emailed my file to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital to see if they could do it and at what cost. Their response was yes, they can do it and it would cost 200,000 baht for both eyes, plus 3,000 baht for an initial assessment. However, if I had a cataract it could cost another 50,000 baht. I needed clarification on this and they confirmed that, from the information I supplied, my cost would only be the originally quoted price.

I decided to take up the Thai option and when OE called again I gave them the news. They took it well, although did try to persuade me to change my mind, even offering a slightly better discount, but sadly not enough to make a difference. Then good old Boris put a spanner in the works with not only making a complete dogs dinner of Brexit and running the country, but also fucking up the exchange rates. Now the savings I would make by having the treatment in Thailand were in jeopardy due to the exchange rates falling, so I contacted BPH to see if they could offer any discounts as the falling pound was making their treatment more expensive. They said they couldn’t alter the price as it was a fixed package but due to a ‘healthy lady’ concession, they offered me 50% off the original consultation fee of 3,000 baht. I’m all for equality and accepted the discount, even though I’m a fully qualified bloke!!

With this in mind, I booked my holiday dates, my flight, my accommodation and emailed the hospital to let them know my arrival dates. I soon had my appointment booked for two days after arrival – it was on!!

 

As a footnote - the complete story has been written, but I will post it in sections for ease of reading - enjoy!

 

Keyman

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I am a bit confused, you said there is an extra charge for cataract surgery, which is simply removing and replacing the existing clouded lens - Why the extra charge?

And you did not mention the type of lenses that they would be inserting, as there are several options - Astigmatism correcting, variable focus etc. which adds considerably to the price, and from what the Doc told me, the variable ones have a spotty success rate.

For many years, I have been wearing "mono" contact lenses (One eye for reading, one eye for distance) and in addition, they were 30 day 24 hour wear and then throw away -  No glasses for near or far, but my lens was getting clouded so  I had cataract surgery a few years ago and it turned out great, I now have 20-20 for both close and far, no glasses, and my insurance covered almost all of the cost.

From my experience, I would do a bit more research.

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2 hours ago, MrMango said:

I am a bit confused, you said there is an extra charge for cataract surgery, which is simply removing and replacing the existing clouded lens - Why the extra charge?

And you did not mention the type of lenses that they would be inserting, as there are several options - Astigmatism correcting, variable focus etc. which adds considerably to the price, and from what the Doc told me, the variable ones have a spotty success rate.

For many years, I have been wearing "mono" contact lenses (One eye for reading, one eye for distance) and in addition, they were 30 day 24 hour wear and then throw away -  No glasses for near or far, but my lens was getting clouded so  I had cataract surgery a few years ago and it turned out great, I now have 20-20 for both close and far, no glasses, and my insurance covered almost all of the cost.

From my experience, I would do a bit more research.

I think he's already had the whole treatment. Just letting us know how it went.

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43 minutes ago, awesum4 said:

I think he's already had the whole treatment. Just letting us know how it went.

That is unclear, but for others who might be interested in the procedure, I added my experience.

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Interesting, you seem to have taken on the operation when in reality there was not really much need. Most of us will hang in there with reading glasses until the eyesight becomes poor due to a real cataract or age related presbyopia. Also interesting, that the price goes up here dependent on whether you need it more, ie a real cataract. Because as far as I know, the procedure is still exactly the same. Type of lens, as mentioned, is also an important cost actor. The replacement of the lens usually means the eye becomes fixed focal length (monofocal), unless multi-lenses (more expensive, multifocal) are used. In the former case, some people have to accept using glasses for reading after, as the short focal length is not accommodated. 

Another example of affected vision is blaming Boris for the exchange rate issues.... those problems were well settled in by the time he arrived at No 10! 

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My main problem with using reading glasses isn't having to carry them around with me but that I am forever falling asleep wearing them or don't put them far enough away from me before falling asleep and then rolling over onto them and bending, breaking or crushing them with my arse,tits or belly!!

 

Solution? I Just buy loads of cheap charlie reading glasses in Tucom! My eye test there is to bring along a shopping list, then I try on different strengths until I can read it!!! 

 

edit:- As for longer distance I don't drive any more so only need them when flying home to look for signs etc...

Edited by Bullfrog

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37 minutes ago, Bullfrog said:

Solution? I Just buy loads of cheap charlie reading glasses in Tucom! My eye test there is to bring along a shopping list, then I try on different strengths until I can read it!!! 

So you have a shopping list with 'reading glasses' written on it? Which you cannot read, but it prompts you in the right direction. Tidy!

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This is a story of my experience of the process, guys. nothing more, nothing less. It's not a sales blurb to encourage you to do the same. If you want full tech specs, perhaps Dr Somchai is the guy you need to speak to. I've tried to keep this as a light hearted story of events, not a technical manual of  all and sundry. As such I'll post the whole thing instead of piecemeal.

Pattaya Time

I arrived on the Saturday and was soon ensconced in my apartment with my holiday ‘live-in’. She’s someone who has been with me for over a year as my ‘holiday girl’ and it’s an arrangement that suits us both very well. She was aware of my forthcoming operation and wanted to come to the hospital with me. Although I said she would be sat around a lot and I would have to stay in overnight, she was ok with this. Monday soon arrived and I had to be there by 8.30. As per normal this trip, it was drizzling so we got a taxi. Originally he wanted 250 baht, but very quickly dropped it to 200. I only mention this as when we returned the next day, the taxi at the hospital wanted 250 and when we told him we only paid 200 the day before he said they had to pay the hospital to operate from there. They do have a dedicated taxi point there so fair enough and having paid out what I did, I could hardly quibble over 50 baht!

As expected, Thai efficiency had me checked in and up to the eye surgery department, where a nurse was soon getting me documented, before taking me into a side room for some eye tests. Funnily enough she also asked if I minded being photographed during the process. Being a ‘hansum man’ it would have been rude to refuse – perhaps this might come back to bite me!!

Back out to the reception area, where a few other people had arrived and appeared to be going through the same processing. I was then called in by the infamous Doctor Somchai, the very chappy in whose hands I would be placing my trust (and eyeballs) in. Again, more tests before he explained what the procedure entailed and a few other things. Whilst this was going on, a young nurse was busy snapping away with her smartphone – well, I did agree to it! The doctor was at pains to explain how painless it would be whilst administering some drops into my eye. He then demonstrated just how painless it would be by asking me to hold a mirror so I could see my eye. He then took a cotton bud stick and poked it into the white of my eye! The odd thing is I could see my eyeball depress as he pushed it, but felt nothing – how cool was that?  A bit more chit chat, then he was posing next to me as nursey snapped away. I half expected him to do that silly Thai ‘V’ finger thing, but fortunately he didn’t.

Back out to reception and another nurse administered some eye drops, which was soon to be the common theme for my stay. If she administered them once, she did them a dozen times. As I looked around I could see that the others were getting the same. Weird!

My ‘live-in’ checked and found out it wouldn’t be a problem for her to stay the night with me as I would have a private room. I’ve never stayed overnight in a hospital, other than due to work, so I was a little surprised, but pleased as well. 

The next event was probably the most painful of all – the payment. I was taken to see a very officious looking young lady – the sort that when you see them in a porn film they whip off the glasses, undo their topknot letting her hair stream out behind her before she leaps across the desk, revealing stocking tops and high heels, and ravish your body to the point of no return. Alas, not in this case – she just took my money, counted it all out and issued a receipt. Well, it’s the thought that counts!!

We were taken to my room and told when the surgery would take place (about 1.30 that afternoon) and not to eat anything after 12, so since it was only about 10.30, we had a wander downstairs for a coffee. They have a Starbucks and a 7/11 and another shop in the hospital itself, so we stocked up on a few cakes and ‘healthy options’ before returning to the room.

But now the main event is about to begin as a nurse comes to the room with one of those stupid ‘tie up the back’ gowns for me to put on. I put it on and a few minutes later she returns with a porter and wheelchair to whisk me away. I say my farewells to my ‘live-in’ and I’m away, en route to an adventure that could go either way  - a white stick or freedom from glasses!

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Pre Op

We soon arrived where the operation was to take place and was met by another lady, who would be assisting with the procedure. She spoke very good English and was quite chatty. She took me into another room and gave me a pair of operating ‘scrubs’ to wear. She then showed me to a waiting area with a couple of leather couches and offered me a seat. She said someone else was already being operated on, so I would be waiting about 40 minutes. I made myself comfortable and closed my eyes as there was nothing else to do! She returned a little later with a pillow for my head and told me to put my feet up! I think she was surprised at how relaxed I was.

 

At the allotted time everything began to step up a gear. A porter appeared with a wheelchair and the nurse/doctor placed a large white towel over me. We set off along the corridor until we reached what looked like a vending machine. She opened the glass door and removed another large white towel, only this one had been warmed up – clever, I thought, but was soon to realize why as she wheeled me into the operating theatre which was surprisingly cold!

As I laid down on the operating table I thought to myself, this is it. It’s actually going to happen! Someone is going to cut my eyeballs open!!!

 

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The Op

Sometime previously I had been prepped and a catheter inserted into my right arm. They had explained that I would have my face covered, other than for each eye in turn to be revealed. They began to tape the covers to my face with what I presumed to be some form of surgical tape, but when it came time for them to remove it, felt like Gorilla Tape!! They joked that it was probably the most painful part of the procedure, but I said no, the paying for it was the most painful! Oh, how we laughed! They said that anesthetic drops would be placed in my eye and I would see lights moving and feel a little pressure at times (remember the cotton bud?) but should feel no pain. They also injected via the catheter something to help me relax, but I wasn’t aware of that at the time. I think most people have a dominant eye, mine is my left, so they operate on the other eye first. As they were going to do both eyes they had told me previously (and told me again) that once completed, they wouldn’t start on the second eye unless I could confirm I could see from the first eye. 

The operation commenced on my right eye and just as they had said, I could see lights moving, the odd bit of pressure, but no pain. I believe they had placed something in my eye to prevent me blinking, but I neither felt it being inserted nor removed at the end. Within 30 minutes (maybe 20?) it was all done. They removed the covers from my face (fucking tape!!) and checked that I could see with my right eye and was I happy for them to start on my left eye? I confirmed yes to both and it all started again. Soon it was Gorilla Tape time and it was over. As I sat up and looked around, albeit a bit hazy, I watched a guy with a clutch of white sticks walk glumly out of the room – no sale for you today, mate!!

 

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Post Op – not that kind!

They wheeled me from the room into a recovery area where they just wanted me to sit for 30 minutes or so, to make sure I felt ok. They gave me a large pair of ‘Roy Orbisons’ to wear to protect my eyes from the light, which were to become my companion for the rest of my stay. If anyone doesn’t get the ‘Roy Orbison’ reference, you’re far too young and should leave the forums immediately. Dr Somchai came along to check how I was doing and have the proverbial picture taken again – it made me think either he has a very creepy scrapbook or I’m his first patient to survive!! Anyway, I was soon wheeled back to my private room and my concerned ‘live in’. Whilst I had been away, they had brought lunch – it was luke warm and horrible. This became a recurring theme with the evening meal and the breakfast. I should have picked up on this when I was shown the badly photocopied menu originally, as I suspect I wasn’t given anything special, just the bog standard crap they serve on the wards. I can see why the onsite shops do so well!

From this point on, I was given a battery of eye drops on a very regular basis, probably every 30-40 minutes, as well as having my blood pressure, blood oxygen level and my pulse rate checked. It seemed that we were forever being interrupted by one nurse or another, until one said she would not be back until 10pm – result! Time for a little ‘doctor and patient’ roleplay with yours truly in the starring rol as the handsome doctor (still in my scrubs) and my ‘live in’ willing volunteering to have her temperature checked with an, err, unorthodox thermometer. True trooper as she is, she played the role admirably and we settled into the afterglow – only for a different nurse come in to check my vitals again! I think my heart rate was up a bit this time, but we at least had a laugh about it, realizing just how close we were to being caught out.

The other nurse returned at 10pm only to inform me she would also be returning at 2am – bloody hell, they’re thorough! Another nurse also arrived at stupid o’clock so sleep wasn’t the best, especially as I had to keep the Roy Orbisons on in case I accidentally rubbed my eyes in the night. Suffice to say I had a rather disturbed sleep and awoke only when they came to tell me Dr Somchai needed another picture, sorry, to give me a final check prior to release. I was wheeled back to the original reception area where my eyesight was checked again and enquiries made as to how I felt. To be fair, the treatment had been pretty good and I was pleased with how everything had progressed so far. Dr Somchai told me what I was and was not to do over the coming weeks. I am not to drink alcohol for a month (that might not work!), I was not to do any exercise, but I was able to walk and to play golf. I was quite surprised at this as before the operation, I couldn’t play golf, so a bit of a bonus, really. It was explained how many different eye drops I had to take and how often, that if I had any problems, headaches and the like, I should call them immediately. A follow up appointment was also booked for the following Monday and also they will see me again before I leave the following week. After what I hoped was my final picture being taken I was wheeled back to my room to get changed and collect my medication. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to keep my scrubs, but I was allowed to keep my Roy Orbison’s. My breakfast had also been delivered whilst I was away and true to form, was shit.

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29 minutes ago, jacko said:

So you have a shopping list with 'reading glasses' written on it? Which you cannot read, but it prompts you in the right direction. Tidy!

The most embarrasing situation was when I was happily trying on glasses then somebody told me that I was actually standing at Dunkin Donuts next stall along....

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40 minutes ago, keyman said:

This is a story of my experience of the process, guys. nothing more, nothing less. It's not a sales blurb to encourage you to do the same. If you want full tech specs, perhaps Dr Somchai is the guy you need to speak to. I've tried to keep this as a light hearted story of events, not a technical manual of  all and sundry. As such I'll post the whole thing instead of piecemeal.

Pattaya Time

I arrived on the Saturday and was soon ensconced in my apartment with my holiday ‘live-in’. She’s someone who has been with me for over a year as my ‘holiday girl’ and it’s an arrangement that suits us both very well. She was aware of my forthcoming operation and wanted to come to the hospital with me. Although I said she would be sat around a lot and I would have to stay in overnight, she was ok with this. Monday soon arrived and I had to be there by 8.30. As per normal this trip, it was drizzling so we got a taxi. Originally he wanted 250 baht, but very quickly dropped it to 200. I only mention this as when we returned the next day, the taxi at the hospital wanted 250 and when we told him we only paid 200 the day before he said they had to pay the hospital to operate from there. They do have a dedicated taxi point there so fair enough and having paid out what I did, I could hardly quibble over 50 baht!

As expected, Thai efficiency had me checked in and up to the eye surgery department, where a nurse was soon getting me documented, before taking me into a side room for some eye tests. Funnily enough she also asked if I minded being photographed during the process. Being a ‘hansum man’ it would have been rude to refuse – perhaps this might come back to bite me!!

Back out to the reception area, where a few other people had arrived and appeared to be going through the same processing. I was then called in by the infamous Doctor Somchai, the very chappy in whose hands I would be placing my trust (and eyeballs) in. Again, more tests before he explained what the procedure entailed and a few other things. Whilst this was going on, a young nurse was busy snapping away with her smartphone – well, I did agree to it! The doctor was at pains to explain how painless it would be whilst administering some drops into my eye. He then demonstrated just how painless it would be by asking me to hold a mirror so I could see my eye. He then took a cotton bud stick and poked it into the white of my eye! The odd thing is I could see my eyeball depress as he pushed it, but felt nothing – how cool was that?  A bit more chit chat, then he was posing next to me as nursey snapped away. I half expected him to do that silly Thai ‘V’ finger thing, but fortunately he didn’t.

Back out to reception and another nurse administered some eye drops, which was soon to be the common theme for my stay. If she administered them once, she did them a dozen times. As I looked around I could see that the others were getting the same. Weird!

My ‘live-in’ checked and found out it wouldn’t be a problem for her to stay the night with me as I would have a private room. I’ve never stayed overnight in a hospital, other than due to work, so I was a little surprised, but pleased as well. 

The next event was probably the most painful of all – the payment. I was taken to see a very officious looking young lady – the sort that when you see them in a porn film they whip off the glasses, undo their topknot letting her hair stream out behind her before she leaps across the desk, revealing stocking tops and high heels, and ravish your body to the point of no return. Alas, not in this case – she just took my money, counted it all out and issued a receipt. Well, it’s the thought that counts!!

We were taken to my room and told when the surgery would take place (about 1.30 that afternoon) and not to eat anything after 12, so since it was only about 10.30, we had a wander downstairs for a coffee. They have a Starbucks and a 7/11 and another shop in the hospital itself, so we stocked up on a few cakes and ‘healthy options’ before returning to the room.

But now the main event is about to begin as a nurse comes to the room with one of those stupid ‘tie up the back’ gowns for me to put on. I put it on and a few minutes later she returns with a porter and wheelchair to whisk me away. I say my farewells to my ‘live-in’ and I’m away, en route to an adventure that could go either way  - a white stick or freedom from glasses!

For some reason I am thinking about the film "A Clockwork Orange" ....

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Keyman, I think it was in 2013 with the same Doctor, same place and sounds like the price is about the same - that I had the surgery on both eyes.

It is really great to dispose of all those glasses scattered around place and to just read the newspaper with no squinting - watch TV and be able to read the news items as they drift across the bottom of the screen. At first you will be conscious of all your mates and others scrambling for their glasses which makes you feel quite smug, plus you will also reach into your pocket for the glasses that are not there when you go to read.

The cost becomes irrelevant over time and was certainly well worth the time and effort.

Good Luck

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I'm glad things worked out well.  Nothing succeeds like success.  As Jacko mentioned, it has to be the same surgical procedure as cataract repair with a difference in the replacement lens.  I wrote up my experience with cataract surgery 4 years ago at the Rutnin Eye Hospital in Bangkok.  It's only a few topics down in the subforum.  The experience and costs were significantly different.  The thing which put me off BHP, was the possibility of the surgeon wanting to do the procedure without a local anesthetic.

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5 hours ago, nkped said:

I'm glad things worked out well.  Nothing succeeds like success.  As Jacko mentioned, it has to be the same surgical procedure as cataract repair with a difference in the replacement lens.  I wrote up my experience with cataract surgery 4 years ago at the Rutnin Eye Hospital in Bangkok.  It's only a few topics down in the subforum.  The experience and costs were significantly different.  The thing which put me off BHP, was the possibility of the surgeon wanting to do the procedure without a local anesthetic.

Are you saying the price difference is the lenses they use are different?

 

That makes no sense to me.

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11 hours ago, MrMango said:

Are you saying the price difference is the lenses they use are different?

 

That makes no sense to me.

I would expect the cheaper single focus lenses would get used in cataract repair, particularly in say the UK on the National Health Service . I believe there is a substantial difference between the types of lenses in price. A simple mono focal lens is much easier to manufacture. A multi-focal, last time I researched it, is made with a stepped effect so that light from closer objects takes a different path than light from distant objects, which comes to the eye as parallel. As Keyman is describing a halo  effect, and particularly wanted to eliminate glasses, I am confident he has had multi-focal fitted. The halo effect is compensated as the brain learns in time.

 

Yes, I have read up on this, no I still don't feel like having it done to correct my age related presbyopia, and I piss around with driving glasses and a pair of those silly little folding ones in my pocket for those hard to read menus... you know, barfine, lady drink, bar-tabs etc etc in dark environments.

Thanks KM, useful to the nth degree. 

Edited by jacko

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1 hour ago, jacko said:

I would expect the cheaper single focus lenses would get used in cataract repair, particularly in say the UK on the National Health Service . I believe there is a substantial difference between the types of lenses in price. A simple mono focal lens is much easier to manufacture.

yes all correct and I was offered the option of the more expensive one, but he said that cataract replacement lens were more expensive than replacement lenses I believe, which does not make sense to me.

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37 minutes ago, MrMango said:

yes all correct and I was offered the option of the more expensive one, but he said that cataract replacement lens were more expensive than replacement lenses I believe, which does not make sense to me.

I did read that the price in Thailand went up if you had cataracts which is interesting. Cashing in on urgency and need. 

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43 minutes ago, jacko said:

I did read that the price in Thailand went up if you had cataracts which is interesting. Cashing in on urgency and need. 

But I cannot think of any other reason to have lens replacement surgery other than cataracts. Maybe a rare brain disorder or accident, but 99.9% of lens replacements are done for cataracts IMHO.

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24 minutes ago, MrMango said:

But I cannot think of any other reason to have lens replacement surgery other than cataracts. Maybe a rare brain disorder or accident, but 99.9% of lens replacements are done for cataracts IMHO.

If you read the OP you will see reason beyond cataracts! I have considered it myself due to issues with night time driving. (Age related presbyopia). As to statistics, I do not know them, but would expect some to consider that reason enough. 

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I recently had the cataract surgery in USA paid for by Medicare & Blue Cross Blue Shield.  I paid nothing, they combined paid a little over $8000.  The lens were monofocal; nothing about dominant eye using a different focus. I still have to use cheaters for reading small print and upclose purposes.

The lens replacement procedure is also done by some doctors for those who are not candidates for Lasik correction. I wouldn't want to be on the hook for the cost from my pocket alone.

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17 minutes ago, JONPAT said:

I recently had the cataract surgery in USA paid for by Medicare & Blue Cross Blue Shield.  I paid nothing, they combined paid a little over $8000.  The lens were monofocal; nothing about dominant eye using a different focus. I still have to use cheaters for reading small print and upclose purposes.

The lens replacement procedure is also done by some doctors for those who are not candidates for Lasik correction. I wouldn't want to be on the hook for the cost from my pocket alone.

Since I had been using mono vision with contacts, it was obvious to the Doc I would want the same with the replacement lens and there was no increase in price.

I now live without any glasses for far or near.

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25 minutes ago, MrMango said:

Since I had been using mono vision with contacts, it was obvious to the Doc I would want the same with the replacement lens and there was no increase in price.

I now live without any glasses for far or near.

Yes, if I ever have another lens replacement I'll do that way. 

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