PATIENT EDUCATION

You’ve Got Questions - We’ve Got Answers

WHAT IS A CATARACT?

When the crystalline lens of the eye loses its transparency, this condition is called a cataract. Light readily passes through a normally clear lens, producing a sharp image on the retina; when the lens becomes cloudy light can not pass through as easily and vision is impaired. Having a cataract is like trying to look through a foggy window.

A comprehensive eye examination can detect cataract formation. In time, cataracts may become so dense that good vision can no longer be achieved with prescription glasses. At that time, surgery may be the best option to restore vision.

WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?

Glaucoma is a complex eye disease in which circulation of the fluid in the eye is disrupted. It is similar to the blockage of a kitchen sink, leading to overflow of water. This blockage of the fluid stops the process of re-absorption of the eye fluid leading to a rise in pressure within the eye. High pressure in the back of the eye causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the "cable" that connects the eye to the brain. Once the optic nerve is damaged, permanent vision loss can occur.

Complete eye exams are necessary to determine if you have glaucoma or at risk for developing it. Evaluation for glaucoma includes measurement of your eye pressure, evaluation of the optic nerve, and a visual field test to measure peripheral vision.

DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the eye. The retina is a nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to your brain. When blood vessels in the retina are damaged, they may leak fluid or blood, and grow fragile, brush-like branches and scar tissue. This can blur or distort the images that the retina sends to the brain. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness among adults in the United States.

LOWERING PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS

Many patients, even those with drug insurance, complain about the cost of prescription drugs.  The following resources may be helpful to you if you are having a difficult time paying for your eye medications.

 

  1. Compare prices.  Retail drug prices can vary significantly from pharmacy to pharmacy, sometimes by as much as twenty dollars per month.  Call the five pharmacies nearest your home and ask for the prices of your medications, or use GoodRX’s Drug Price Search to compare prices for your prescriptions at pharmacies near you:  www.GoodRX.com  If you have prescription drug insurance or Medicare Part D, be sure to mention the name of your insurance company.  Compare pharmacies often, as prices and offers may change.  Remember that one pharmacy may not have the best price on each of your medications.

  2. Ask if a 90 Day Supply of your medicine is less expensive than three 30 day supplies.

  3. Prescriptions by Mail.  For many insurance plans, a mail-order pharmacy may be less expensive than using a local pharmacy.

  4. Generic and Alternative Medicines.  In some cases, your doctor may be able to change your medication to lessen your costs.  Typically, generic medications cost less than brand name drugs, and some brand name medicines are less expensive.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a lower cost medication is available and appropriate for you, and check with your insurance company for lower cost preferred alternatives to your medication.

  5. Don’t always use your health insurance or Medicare drug plan.  In some cases, the Cash Price of a medication may be cheaper than your plan’s co-pay, especially if a coupon, drug savings card, discount or manufacturer’s discount card is used, or if it is on a chain drug store or Wal-Mart generic drug list.  Remember that when you bypass your insurance, money spent on your medication will not count toward your deductible or out-of-pocket maximums.  Most pharmacies will process prescriptions through insurance unless the patient tells them to do otherwise.

  6. Generic Drug Lists.  Chain pharmacies often offer member clubs for low cost generics, and Wal-Mart provides a list of generic medicines at $4 for a 30 day supply or $10 for a 3 month supply, which may be cheaper than your drug plan’s co-pay.

  7. Prescription Drug Savings Cards.  GoodRx will also show you available coupons and discounts for your prescriptions at pharmacies near you.  Information about GoodRX can be obtained from your doctor’s office or by going to www.goodrx.com  Coupons and discounts cannot be used in conjunction with Medicare and Medicaid drug plans, but in some cases, coupons and discounts available for GoodRx may provide lower prices than your Medicare co-pay or lower prices if the medicine is non-formulary for your plan.

  8. Pharmaceutical Company Drug Savings Cards.  Drug manufacturers may offer savings cards for specific brand-name medications.  Medicare and Medicaid patients may not use the cards in conjunction with their drug plan, but in some cases these discounts may provide lower prices than your Medicare cp-pay.  Ask your doctor if a brand name savings card is available.

  9. Online Pharmacies.  Some online pharmacies offer lower prescription drug prices.  HealthWarehouse.com is a reputable online retailer with low prices.

  10. Canadian Pharmacies.  Some patients may want to consider obtaining their medications through an online pharmacy operating out of Canada.  Prescription medicines from Canada may be up to 80% less expensive compared with U.S. medications.  To find a reputable Canadian online pharmacy, look for certification by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.  A list of pharmacies meeting certification may be found at www.CIPA.com  Certified pharmacies will require a valid prescription from a U.S. doctor, have a licensed pharmacist available for patient consultation, and will list their physical address and phone number on the website.  Another resource for verifying online pharmacies is www.PharmacyChecker.com  It is extremely important to research the website with which you do business, as some online pharmacies have been found to dispense counterfeit medications.

  11. Negotiate with the pharmacist for a lower price.  Always as “Is this your lowest price?”  Pharmacists may have some flexibility to match or beat competitor’s prices.  Consumer Reports found that independent pharmacies were more likely to be willing to lower a drug’s price is a patient asked.  Pharmacists may also be aware of manufacturer-provided discounts or coupons.

  12. Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs. If you have limited to no income and meet appropriate financial requirements, it may be possible for you to receive prescription eye drops at no cost directly from the manufacturer.  Ask your doctor about Assistance Programs or visit the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org

 

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