Macular degeneration is a disorder that causes vision loss. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision problems for those 60 and older, which means that many who experience this ailment are on Medicare. Nearly 2 million Americans over the age of 60 have this disorder.
Those at highest risk of developing macular degeneration are Caucasians and current or former smokers. If there is a history of macular degeneration in your family, you are at higher risk as well.
Living a healthy lifestyle as you grow older is a good idea in general, but can specifically help to prevent you from developing macular degeneration. Especially important are keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.
Does Medicare Cover Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Yes, Medicare covers most treatments for those diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration. Beneficiaries may be covered for certain preventive and diagnostic exams to treat eye conditions under Part B.
Also, those diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration fall under the category of needing medically necessary treatments. Those medically necessary treatments are covered under Medicare Part A and Part B.
Part A will cover macular degeneration if the condition causes you to be hospitalized. Part B covers certain treatments that are recommended by your physician.
It’s crucial for beneficiaries diagnosed with diabetes, have a family history of glaucoma, or those who have suffered an eye disease or injury to be aware of and utilize these benefits.
Treatments for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Covered by Medicare
Medicare Part B covers treatment for beneficiaries with age-related macular degeneration, some treatments include:
- Lucentis – approved by the FDA in June 2006 for treating the more advanced or “wet” form of macular degeneration
- Avastin – a cancer drug that is considerably less expensive.
- Macugen – This treatment for AMD uses a therapeutic molecule to attack VEGF in the eye
- Eylea – Like Lucentis and Macugen, Eylea is designed to inhibit the action of VEGF in wet (neovascular) AMD.
- Verteporfin (Visudyne) – ocular photodynamic therapy only for those patients who have new blood vessel growth under the retina in a well defined pattern known as “predominantly classic.“
- Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) – the treatment is covered by Medicare for eligible patients who have central blindness in both eyes that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication or other eye surgery.
- Aflibercept – recombinant protein treatment for wet AMD
- Pegaptanib – also used for treating wet AMD
This list does not include all the treatment options covered by Medicare. New ones become available regularly, check with your physician and/or Medicare agent on coverage for any treatments not listed above.
Remember, the beneficiary pays 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for any treatments or services covered under Part B. A Medicare Supplement Plan will cover that 20%, as well as many other out of pocket expenses beneficiaries are left responsible for.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
Symptoms can appear gradually or quickly. If symptoms are rapidly developing, then the patient may have wet macular degeneration, which can be a much more difficult disorder to manage and treat.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- Distorted vision, including striation of pages when reading
- Blurred vision
- Sudden color blindness
- Dark patches in the field of vision
- A decrease in vision in dim lighting (continually needing brighter light to see)
- Color changes under the retina, which are painless
- A slowing of visual acuity (this comes later in the development of the disorder)
Diagnosis of Macular Degeneration
It’s essential to visit an ophthalmologist or optometrist for a complete eye examination if you suspect you may have macular degeneration. The doctor will perform a series of tests to get an in-depth look at your eye health.
Included in the exam will be photos of the interior of your eyes, known as autofluorescence. Dilation will be necessary for the doctor to look at the back of your retina, which is done with eyedrops.
Once your eyes are dilated, a bright beam will be directed into your eye so the doctor can thoroughly examine and evaluate what is going on.
You will also have the pressure in your eye measured, and you will be given drops to numb your eyes for this examination, called tomography.
Your doctor may also ask you to monitor your eye health at home using an Amsler grid, which is similar to graph paper.
If your doctor suspects macular degeneration, he or she will want to follow you closely to observe the progress of the disorder. There are not many treatments available, but your doctor can determine which will work for you and what will be covered by Medicare.
This combination of supplements is recommended by The National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) for treatment of early onset macular degeneration.
Your physician will be able to tell you if this treatment is right for you. It can be especially helpful during the beginning stages of macular degeneration.
- 500 mg of vitamin C
- 400 IUs of vitamin E
- 10 mg of lutein
- 2 mg of zeaxanthin
- 80 mg of zinc
- 2 mg of copper
Get Additional Help for Medical Costs Not Covered by Original Medicare
Keep in mind, Original Medicare does NOT cover routine vision care. This is where a supplemental dental, vision and hearing plan will come in handy.
Medicare does not cover everything, including vision benefits. Adding a Medicare Supplement plan, as well as a dental hearing and vision plan, to your Original Medicare benefits will give you peace of mind.
Give us a call today, or complete our online rate form to see a side by side comparison of supplement plans in your area that will help cover your out of pocket costs.