Medicare Now Covers Glaucoma Screening
On recommendations from NIH's National Eye Institute, Medicare this month began covering an "annual dilated eye examination" meant to detect the presence of glaucoma, the AP/Nando Times reports. The test, which involves using eye drops to dilate a patient's pupils, will be offered to all Medicare beneficiaries "at high risk for glaucoma," including people with diabetes, people with a family history of glaucoma and African Americans age 50 and older. Glaucoma is a "leading cause of blindness" and affects about three million Americans, but half are undiagnosed, the AP/Nando Times reports. The disease is five times more likely to afflict blacks than whites and nearly four times more likely to cause blacks to go blind (AP/Nando Times, 1/22). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "Preventive benefits, such as this new glaucoma coverage, help keep people enrolled in Medicare healthy and improve their quality of life" (NIH release, 1/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.