Cataract surgery costs

Without insurance, the cost of cataract surgery is around $3,000+ per eye. It's free in the public sector under Medicare, and private health insurance can help cover it in the private system.

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How much does cataract surgery cost?

Prices for cataract surgery vary based on the hospital, health insurance policy, surgeon, lenses and individual circumstances. Your ophthalmologist will recommend the best procedure and lenses for you. Some premium lenses can also be used to correct common refractive errors including short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism, though they are more expensive than standard lenses.

Typical costs of cataract surgery in Austrlia

CoverOut-of-pocket costWaiting periodChoice of specialist?
Public hospital under MedicareFree.While there's no waiting period for cataract surgery covered under Medicare, there are waiting lists for surgery in a public hospital, generally around 6 to 18 months. You may need to pay extras for premium lenses.No.
Private hospital cover$400 - $2,500+, plus your policy excess.Your private hospital cover will have a 2-month waiting period before you can claim for cataract surgery, 12 months if you have a pre-existing condition. After that, the waiting period for surgery will depend on the surgeon’s availability. In many cases, the procedure can be performed immediately. The out-of-pocket cost will vary based on your fund, surgeon, and excess.Yes, although you may pay a higher out-of-pocket cost if your surgeon doesn't have a gap agreement with your fund.
Private hospital without cover$1,600 - $3,000+ per eye.The waiting period will depend on the surgeon’s availability. In many cases, the procedure can be performed more or less immediately.Yes.

Cost of cataract surgery under Medicare

If your cataract surgery is medically necessary, Medicare will cover the cost of surgery in a public hospital, at no cost to you. However, there may be some costs that Medicare may not cover, including:

  • Premium lenses that correct vision issues. These can cost from $2,500 per eye.
  • Some specialist fees, leading up to your surgery.

Note that while Medicare will pay for your surgery, you won't be able to pick your surgeon, and you'll be subject to the public hospital surgery waiting lists. For cataract surgery, the waiting list is around 6 to 18 months. To avoid the wait, you'll need to use the private system.

Cost of cataract surgery with private health insurance

Health insurance for cataracts generally requires a gold-tier hospital policy, although it's also available on many Silver Plus policies as well. For cataract surgery in the pricate sytem, Medicare will pay part of the cost, and your health fund will also pay a benefit. The 'gap' or out-of-pocket cost is whatever is left, which you'll be required to pay. The gap amount depends on a lot of factors, but here are two estimates from HCF and MEdicare:

HCF: HCF's cost calculator estimates a total service cost of $5,986 and an out-of-pocket cost of $587, plus your policy excess. This is assuming you use a HCF participating private hospital and doctor for treatment.

Medibank: Medibank's estimation for the cost of cataract surgery is $4,090, with an out-of-pocket cost of $400, plus your policy excess. This is assuming you use a Medibank participating private hospital and doctor for treatment.

Cost of cataract surgery without insurance (in the private system)

If you want cataract surgery in a private hospital, but don't have private hospital cover, then you'll need to pay for the entire procedure by yourself. The cost of surgery will vary based on your surgeon, but here are a few estimates we were able to find:

OKKO: OKKO Eye Specialist Centre says that cataract surgery costs around $3,000 per eye without insurance.

MCES: MCES eye surgery in Melbourne charges from $1,600 per eye for cataract surgery, although this does not include the cost of anaesthetic.

Compare health insurance that covers cataract surgery

You can find a health insurance policy that covers cataract surgery from around $18 per week. Here are some policies that cover cataract removal from Finder partners. All have a 2-month waiting period before you can claim, or 12 months if it is a pre-existing condition.

Name Product Cataract Surgery Artificial lens surgery Price Per Month Hide CompareBox Apply
Frank Basic Hospital 500 (Basic+)
ahm deluxe silver plus
Qantas Silver Plus Hospital
Medibank Silver Plus Security
HBF Gold Hospital

Compare up to 4 providers

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are cloudy patches that form on the lens of the eye. A cataract blocks light from passing to the back of the eye, making it more difficult for a person to see clearly. While it is possible to have a cataract in one eye, they typically develop in both eyes.

Cataracts usually form due to ageing. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than 31% of Australians over 55 and more than 70% of Australians over 80 have developed cataracts. They are more common in men than women. Risk factors include age, sun exposure, diabetes and cigarette smoking.

What is cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is used to treat cataracts that have advanced and are affecting a person's eyesight and quality of life. The surgery involves removing the clouded eye lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Depending on the surgeon and your individual circumstances, the procedure may be performed on both eyes at the same time or on one eye at a time with a few weeks for recovery in between procedures. Along with laser eye surgery, cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in Australia.

Quick facts about cataract surgery

Procedure time: 10 to 30 minutes per eye.
Anaesthetic type: Local anaesthesia.
Recovery time: Vision typically improves within a few days but full recovery takes 4 to 6 weeks.
Australian statistics:

Finder partner clinics that offer cataract surgery

Name Product No. of Laser Eye Surgeons Locations
Burwood, Canberra, Castle Hill, Dubbo, Epping, Liverpool, Morisset, Mudgee, Parramatta, Sydney CBD, Nowra, Penrith

Compare up to 4 providers

Frequently asked questions

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10 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    KarlMay 18, 2019

    Are there any medications that someone is on that will prevent this procedure from happening?

      Default Gravatar
      BellaMay 19, 2019

      Hi Karl,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Please note that we are a comparison website and general information service. Only a qualified ophthalmologist will be able to tell you if there is a medication to prevent Cataract surgery. It’s best to consult with a medical expert to give you a personalized answer regarding this matter.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

    Default Gravatar
    AndrewMay 5, 2019

    Hi! I would like to know how much it cost for an eye laser. I’m on an age pension, is there any Medicare rebates? I’m 66 years old and my wife is 60 years old . Is there any discounts? Thank you for helping us with answers. Andrew

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MaiMay 6, 2019Staff

      Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for reaching out.

      The price depends on what type of eye laser procedure you wish to have. The amount ranges from $2,200-$6,200 depending on the procedure and the hospital or surgeon who will conduct the treatment. You may compare laser eye surgery costs in Australia

      The discount will depend on the hospital where you wanted to have the treatment if they offer such for those who are on age pension. You can also reach out to Human Resources to check your eligibility on the rebate and how much can you get based on the procedure that you will have.

      Hope this helps! 😊

      Kind Regards,

    Default Gravatar
    TonyFebruary 20, 2019

    Can pensioners still have cataract surgery free of charge in NSW? And approximately, what would be the waiting time?


      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniFebruary 25, 2019Staff

      Hi Tony,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      I can’t find the exact answer to your question. However, our page mentioned that pensioners may be eligible for discounted surgery at private hospitals, depending on the hospital. Medicare will pay for a portion of the surgeon and anaesthetist fee. Seniors on the pension without insurance typically pay less than $2,000 per eye. Kindly reach out to your provider to obtain more info on cataract surgery.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    AniFebruary 6, 2019


    How much would cost for the visitor from overseas? I have no Medicare.


      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaFebruary 12, 2019Staff

      Hi Ani,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      If you are planning to have cataract surgery in Australia, it won’t matter whether you are from another country or not since the price would still remain the same. As our page mentioned, the cost starts at $2,500 per eye. It may be lower or higher, depending on your condition as well as where you will get your surgery done.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    ColleenNovember 19, 2018

    After Medicare contribution and pension, what is the cost for me?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniNovember 19, 2018Staff

      Hi Colleen,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      As mentioned on this page, the total cost of cataract surgery varies depending factors such as the surgeon, the type of lens used and individual circumstances. I suggest that you speak to your ophthalmologist and insurer for the price as well as possible cost of the surgery for you.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


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