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How Much Does Keratoconus Treatment Cost?

The cost of keratoconus management can definitely add up over time. Read on to learn more about the various costs involved with the different treatment options available for keratoconus. It is essential to take care of your eyes properly and to speak to your health care provider to ensure that the costs are not preventing you from taking care of your condition.

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Keratoconus Eye Care Is Expensive

Keratoconus management is expensive. Studies have shown that the accumulated cost over the lifetime of a patient can exceed $25,000. For most people, this exorbitant expenditure highlights the importance of having good medical coverage. As the condition deteriorates and standard aids to improve vision become inadequate, there may be a need for more expensive specialty contact lenses and costly medical procedures. 

The reticence of some insurance plans to cover certain costs can be frustrating. Sometimes, your plan will agree to pay for a procedure if previous interventions were unsuccessful. Speak with your optometrist to construct the best treatment plan for your needs. While insurance plans may not cover everything, many plans will cover the costs (partially or full) for medical related eye care. 

The following section will explore approximate costs of common treatments in the U.S., ranging from different types of contact lenses, to outpatient procedures such as cross-linking, and proper surgeries such as corneal transplants.

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Approximate Costs of Treatment

Since the severity of keratoconus usually increases over time, it is common for people to require frequent changes in their treatment plan. 

  • Exams: Routine and comprehensive eye exams are essential for detecting and monitoring eye disorders such as keratoconus. Optimal maintenance often requires comprehensive exams using expensive diagnostic tools.  Such testing for medical conditions are frequently covered in full or part by many health insurance plans. In the case of keratoconus, topographical corneal mapping is a common diagnostic tool.
  • Contact Lenses: The cost should take into account the expense of increasingly more expensive lenses as vision worsens and custom fittings, which become more sophisticated with specialty lenses. Common lenses include:
    • Soft contacts- A comfortable option usually only suitable for moderate symptoms. Costs range from $50-100 per box of disposables.
    • Rigid gas-permeable contacts- Rigid lenses may become necessary as the condition advances. They provide increased durability and gas permeability and can cost from just under $100 to several hundred dollars per set of lens.
    • Hybrid- A type of combination lens blending the comfort of a soft lens with gas permeability.
    • Piggy-back- A piggyback method where one type of lens “rides” on top of the other contact to improve vision.
    • Scleral lenses- Can cost approximately $2000-4000. These specialty lenses sit on the sclera rather than the scarred tissue. Often regarded as the most comfortable and effective lenses for people with keratoconus.

Learn more about contact lenses for keratoconus.

Generally speaking, specialty contacts are more expensive than standard lenses.

Procedures:

  • Collagen cross-linking procedure: Approximately $2500-4000 per eye. This may not be suitable in cases of extreme corneal abnormality and severe vision loss. This outpatient procedure involves a combination of UV light and riboflavin drops to strengthen the eye and impede corneal deterioration . It is minimally invasive, low risk, and effective in slowing down progression. Learn more about collagen cross-linking.
  • Intacs: A procedure involving the insertion of plastic rings to stretch and flatten the cornea. Can cost approximately $1500-3000 per eye.
  • Corneal transplant: The cost for this procedure involving the transplantation of donor tissue, ranges from $13,000 -$28,000. Contacts may still be needed following a transplant. Learn more about corneal transplant.
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Common Questions

Left untreated, keratoconus will lead to impaired vision as the cornea deteriorates. There are many effective methods of preventing further deterioration and improving vision. Speak with your health provider to find out which interventions are covered. While all plans differ from one another, many treatments and interventions are covered (fully or partially) by insurance because they are deemed medically necessary.
How Much Does Keratoconus Treatment Cost?
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Creating a Treatment Plan for Keratoconus

The costs for managing keratoconus can become expensive over the lifetime of a patient.  As the condition degenerates, standard contacts and glasses are often insufficient to improve vision and more expensive specialized lenses are required.  Additionally, as the cornea deteriorates there may be a need for costly medical procedures and surgeries to prevent further corneal deterioration. 

We hope you have benefitted from this article which explored the approximate costs of these interventions. Fortunately, many of these expensive costs are covered, either partially or in full, with health insurance, since keratoconus maintenance is regarded as essential medical care. Speak with your provider to find out what benefits you are entitled to when it comes to managing this condition and other eye disorders. This will enable you to construct an appropriate treatment plan with your optometrist.

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