Local Coverage Determination (LCD)

Ophthalmic Biometry for Intraocular Lens Power Calculation


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LCD Information

Document Information

LCD Title
Ophthalmic Biometry for Intraocular Lens Power Calculation
Proposed LCD in Comment Period
Source Proposed LCD
Original Effective Date
For services performed on or after 10/01/2015
Revision Effective Date
For services performed on or after 09/19/2019
Revision Ending Date
Retirement Date
Notice Period Start Date
Notice Period End Date
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CMS National Coverage Policy

Language quoted from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) and coverage provisions in interpretive manuals is italicized throughout the policy. NCDs and coverage provisions in interpretive manuals are not subject to the Local Coverage Determination (LCD) Review Process (42 CFR 405.860[b] and 42 CFR 426 [Subpart D]). In addition, an administrative law judge may not review an NCD. See §1869(f)(1)(A)(i) of the Social Security Act.

Unless otherwise specified, italicized text represents quotation from one or more of the following CMS sources:

Title XVIII of the Social Security Act (SSA):

Section 1862(a)(1)(A) excludes expenses incurred for items or services which are not reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member.

Section 1833(e) prohibits Medicare payment for any claim which lacks the necessary information to process the claim.

Code of Federal Regulations:

42 CFR §410.32 indicates that diagnostic tests may only be ordered by a treating physician (or other treating practitioner acting within the scope of his/her license and Medicare requirements) who furnishes a consultation or treats a beneficiary for a specific medical problem and who uses the results in the management of the beneficiary's specific medical problem. Tests not ordered by the physician (or other qualified non-physician provider) who is treating the beneficiary are not reasonable and necessary (see Sec. 411.15(k)(1) of this chapter).

CMS Publications:

CMS Publication 100-02, Medicare National Coverage Determinations(NCD) Manual, Chapter 1, Part 1:
    10.1‎ Use of Visual Tests Prior to and General Anesthesia during Cataract Surgery
CMS Publication 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations (NCD) Manual, Chapter 1, Part 1:
    10.1‎ Use of Visual Tests Prior to and General Anesthesia during Cataract Surgery
CMS Publication 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations Manual, Chapter 30:
220.5‎ Ultrasound Diagnostic Procedures

Coverage Guidance

Coverage Indications, Limitations, and/or Medical Necessity


There are two methods used for intraocular lens power calculation:

  • A-Scan Ultrasound Ophthalmic Biometry

    Ophthalmic A-scan biometry by ultrasound echography is performed through the optical axis of the eye to determine the power of an intraocular (IOL) lens implant. The technical portion of ophthalmic biometry is usually performed in both eyes at the same setting.

  • Non-Ultrasound Ophthalmic Biometry

    Optical coherence biometry (OCB) utilizes partial coherence interferometry for measuring axial length (biometry) and for intraocular lens power calculation when planning for cataract surgery. OCB also measures the corneal curvature and anterior chamber depth. The technical portion is usually performed in both eyes at the same visit.


A diagnostic ultrasound A-scan generally is used for patients who have simple cataracts. For patients with a dense cataract, an ultrasound B-scan may be used. (CMS Publication 100-03, Medicare National Coverage Determinations(NCD)Manual, Chapter 1, Part 1, Section 10.1) 

A second complete A scan/OCB will be covered if a different surgeon, unaffiliated with the surgeon who performed the first cataract extraction, performed the extraction on the second eye. We would not anticipate a high frequency of these instances.


Currently, the relative value units (RVUs) for the global and technical components of each method of ophthalmic biometry for intraocular lens power calculation are based on the procedure being bilaterally performed. If unilateral cataract extraction with an IOL implant is planned, a bilateral technical component of the A-scan or OCB is typically performed, while the professional component of the power calculation is performed unilaterally (on the operative eye only). Thus, the technical components are considered bilateral and the professional component is considered unilateral.

Prior to cataract surgery on the second, contralateral eye, allowance for the power calculation can be made. However, allowance for the technical component of the A-scan or OCB CPT code cannot be made since this bilateral procedure was performed and reimbursed at the time of the first surgery.

The technical component of the scan will generally provide valid information for twelve months. A repeat scan in less than twelve months would not be covered without documentation of significant change in vision (unless required because a second unaffiliated surgeon performed the second cataract extraction.) Generally, when bilateral cataracts are noted at examination, extraction of the second cataract is only performed after results of the first cataract extraction are known and symptoms or findings support the medical necessity for removal of the cataract in the other eye. If ophthalmic biometry is performed and later the surgery is canceled, it is reasonable to allow a repeat scan if significant time, e.g., greater than one (1) year, has elapsed when surgery is rescheduled.

Ophthalmic biometry for lens power calculation should not be performed unless a decision to remove the cataract has been made by the patient and surgeon. If the biometry is performed by an optometrist, he/she should do so in coordination with the operating surgeon so that only one procedure is necessary. If the biometry is repeated by the operating surgeon due to inadequacy of the study, the original eye care physician/provider should anticipate not being reimbursed for the study.

Summary of Evidence


Analysis of Evidence (Rationale for Determination)


General Information

Associated Information
Sources of Information

Other Medicare Contractor Local Coverage Determinations/Local Medical Review Policies, particularly Wheatlands Administrative Services, Inc., Contractor Number 00650.

Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Relative Value File/Database



Revision History Information

Revision History DateRevision History NumberRevision History ExplanationReasons for Change
09/19/2019 R4

This LCD was converted to the new "no-codes" format. There has been no change in coverage with this LCD revision.

  • Revisions Due To Code Removal
08/01/2019 R3

Consistent with Change Request 10901, all coding information, National coverage provisions, and Associated Information (Documentation Requirements, Utilization Guidelines) have been removed from the LCD and placed in the related Billing and Coding Article, A56549. There has been no change in coverage with this LCD revision.

  • Provider Education/Guidance
10/01/2015 R2 Added ICD-10-CM codes T85.21XA, T85.21XD, T85.21XS, T85.22XA, T85.22XD, T85.22XS, T85.29XA, T85.29XD, and T85.29XS to the ICD-10 Codes that Support Medical Necessity section, effective for services rendered on or after 10/01/2015.
  • Request for Coverage by a Practitioner (Part B)
10/01/2015 R1 LCD updated to reflect administrative changes.
  • Provider Education/Guidance

Associated Documents

Related National Coverage Documents
Public Versions
Updated On Effective Dates Status
09/11/2019 09/19/2019 - N/A Currently in Effect You are here
Some older versions have been archived. Please visit the MCD Archive Site to retrieve them.


  • cataract
  • biometry
  • ophthalmic
  • eyes

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