BENGALURU: The Maharashtra government submitted a report recently to the Union health ministry to cap the prices of 18 medical devices that includes intra-ocular lenses (IOL). If the union health ministry’s approval for the same comes through, there will be a set price at which the lenses can be sold.
However, will this benefit cataract patients? Ophthalmologists are skeptical.
IOLs are medical devices that are implanted inside the eye to replace the eye’s natural lens when it is removed during cataract surgery. IOLs also are used for a type of vision correction surgery called refractive lens exchange.
According to ophthalmologists unlike in the case of coronary stents or knee implants, the Indian market has lenses of every range from manufacturers both domestic and international. It is up to the patient to choose from a wide variety of lenses.
Narayana Nethralaya’s four branches perform at least 100 cataract surgeries per day, one of the largest for an eye hospital in the city. Dr Bhujang Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Nethralaya, told TNIE, “Cataract surgery costs are not based on the lense’s price. The entire package can cost Rs 5,000 or go up to Rs 1.5 lakh if we are doing laser assisted cataract surgery. So it is unfair to deprive quality and advanced technology to patients who can afford to pay.”
Dr Kaushik Murali, paediatric ophthalmologist, Sankara Eye Hospital, which does 30,000 cataract surgeries every year, told The New Indian Express, “India is the largest exporter of IOLs. It is largely a self-regulated segment. A cataract surgery at Sankara costs Rs 30,000 and it is not because of the lens because the hospitals don’t charge beyond the maximum retail price.”
With 6.5 million cataract surgeries done in a year in India, it is higher than most western countries and even China.