Corneal Collagen Cross Linking (CCXL) for keratoconus will be added to the Medicare Benefits Scheme from 1 May 2018.
The lone awaited news has been welcomed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), including the RANZCO-affiliated Australian and New Zealand Cornea Society, who have been calling for this change for a number of years.
Access to rebate for CCXL through Medicare will make this important treatment available for people who were previously unable to access it due to cost and availability.
In Australia, people with keratoconus will often require corneal transplantation, which, while often necessary, is a complex and invasive procedure that requires donor corneas to be available and has a long recovery period. However, if these patients are able to undergo timely CCXL, which uses ultra violet (UV) light and drops to help slow the progression of the condition, it is likely that they can avoid corneal transplantation altogether.
“This is an important step that brings an innovative and effective treatment option to the many people living with the effects of keratoconus in Australia,” said Professor Gerard Sutton, Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Cornea Society. “From 1 May these people will have available to them a less invasive option that could mitigate the need for a full corneal transplant and that can either stop or slow down the progression of this visually impairing condition. This is a hugely positive and very welcome change.”
Keratoconus causes a person’s cornea to change shape over time, often resulting in blurry vision and impacting people’s ability to undertake every day tasks, in particular causing difficulty driving at night.
Bright lights can start to appear streaked, glare and halos can appear around lights and over time visual function can become progressively worse making it difficult to go about daily life.
“The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) endorses the federal government’s initiative in recognising the importance of crosslinking for the prevention of sight threatening disease, and in providing financial support for patients suffering from progressive keratoconus. We are delighted that this important innovation is being made more readily available for those that need it,” said RANZCO President, Associate Professor Mark Daniell.