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March 2015 Issue

Cornea for Glaucoma Shunt Covers to be Paid at Full Invoice

Effective April 1, CMS will extend cornea tissue’s pass-through status to tissue used in glaucoma shunt surgeries.  The one caveat is that full reimbursement will only be provided for surgeries that take place in Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs); not in hospitals. CMS indicated that they are limiting it to ASCs because they still want to capture the costs for the hospitals so they can make policy adjustments later down the road via cost reporting from the hospitals. 

Below is the language to be included in CMS’ Carrier Revisions newsletter, which will be published in the next week or so:

“ASCs can bill for corneal allograft tissue used for coverage (CPT code 66180) or revision (CPT code 66185) of a glaucoma aqueous shunt with HCPCS code V2785.  Contractors pay for corneal tissue acquisition reported with HCPCS code V2785 based on acquisition/invoice cost.”

EBAA and AAO will be working to inform our members and to educate ASCs so they are prepared for this policy change.

Taken from a letter by Kevin Corcoran, President & CEO of the Eye Bank Association of America.


ASCRS 2015

Planning on attending ASCRS this year? Please visit SightLife on the exhibit floor (booth #2133) to learn more about our tissue services, EndoSerter device and global mission to eliminate corneal blindness worldwide.

SightLife will present EndoSerter demonstrations at our booth. This unique single-use, disposable device is used to implant tissue during DSEK procedures—it simplifies your surgical procedure while reducing your costs. Please contact Christina Psalms at 909-248-5847 for more information or email to register.


SERVICE FEATURE: SightLife DMEK Tissue Update

To give surgeons a more consistent and better quality graft for their patients, SightLife has implemented a new process for DMEK tissue scoring in our labs.

We have changed the way we score the Descemet’s membrane and the result, visually, is a symmetric blue ring indicating the scoring. We hope this will aid surgeons in centering their punch as the location of the Descemet’s peel is visually clear. SightLife will continue to include a scleral notch to indicate where we have left a hinge of Descemet’s attached. We also will still state the minimum graft diameter on the tissue evaluation form. If a scallop or tear does occur, SightLife will note its position in relation to the scleral notch or contact you directly if we feel it needs further explanation.

If you have questions regarding this or any other processing method, please contact our Surgical Services team at 877-682-8502.


Update for Ambulatory Surgical Centers in 2015

CMS has released an update for Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs) that will be submitting claims to Medicare Administrative Contractors in 2015 for services to Medicare beneficiaries. CMS reminds ASCs that according to the “Medicare Claims Processing Manual,” Chapter 14, Section 40- Payment for Ambulatory Surgery, corneal tissue is paid based on acquisition cost or invoice. To receive cost-based reimbursement for corneal tissue acquisition, ASCs must bill charges for corneal tissue using HCPCS code V2785.

This update came at the request of EBAA, following meetings that EBAA and AAO
held with CMS administrators in August and September to address a number of concerns the organizations have with Medicare reimbursement policies. Another outcome of those meeting was a clarification of the process hospitals must follow to secure full-fee reimbursement for corneal tissue.

If you are having issues with obtaining full reimbursement for your corneal tissue, we want to hear from you!  Please email Rusty Kelly, Chief Marketing Officer at

Dr Rudd and patient

0 Margot Duane

U.S. Surgeon Sees The World Through New Eyes

Dr. Jay Rudd served as Visiting Faculty for a SightLife DSEK Skills Transfer Course held at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India in December 2014. Four experienced corneal surgeons were trained during an intensive course.

Dr. Rudd specializes in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery at Clarus Eye Centre in Lacey, WA.

What sparked your interest in training overseas?

In the past, I have participated in a couple of mission trips where I was focused mainly on performing surgery myself. Each trip was a great experience, but its impact was limited to the patients on whom I had operated. Participating in the SightLife program allows me to have an impact on thousands of people through the surgeons I trained in India.  They will be able to help patients who previously had no access to DSEK surgery, for years to come.

I am compelled by SightLife’s mission to eliminate corneal blindness worldwide. I had no idea about the magnitude of the problem globally.  Being a small part of the solution is very meaningful to me.

What surprised you the most about India?

I was amazed by the number of people—everywhere felt like Times Square! More importantly, I was impressed by how friendly and welcoming the people were.

L.V. Prasad Eye Institute was an inspiration, specifically the amount of charity work that is done there. They could just choose to make a lot of money and instead they choose to give back. I wish we had more programs like that in the U.S.

Favorite moment of the trip?

I enjoyed working one-on-one with trainee corneal surgeons during the wet labs and surgeries. Helping them through their first experience with DSEK brought me back to my experience as  a fellow. 

What advice would you give a surgeon who was planning to participate in a SightLife Surgeon Training Program?

I would let them know how excited the surgeons are about learning—they are not there just to get education credits. There is a genuine interest in learning among faculty, fellows and trainees. There was a strong team-based approach to caring for patients.  Everyone was willing to sit down and discuss patients and make sure they receive the best care possible.

For information on how to get involved with SightLife’s Surgeon Training Program, contact Josie Noah, Director, Surgeon Training,


March is Eye Donor Month

Every March, in honor of Eye Donor Month, SightLife elevates its ongoing efforts to promote donation. Our community of corneal surgeons, recipients and donor families is critical to helping spread the word about the transformative and healing power of corneal transplants. Please help us encourage donor registration and discussion among families.

The experience of the Zimmer family of Santa Rosa, California is a perfect example of how donation not only restores sight, but also helps grieving families to heal. Heidi Zimmer

When devoted teacher and Rotarian Heidi Zimmer passed away at age 39 after two years of battling cancer, her family found solace in the news that her corneas could restore sight to others. Heidi’s donation of corneal tissue transformed the lives of two women in their 30s, and the gift continues to comfort her parents, sister and 19-year-old son.

“It was extremely uplifting to learn a part of her body could be used for donation,” said Heidi’s mother, Barbara Zimmer. “Giving someone sight is very rewarding. Donation has been a positive experience for our family.”

As steward of Heidi’s sight-restoring gift and the world’s largest provider of corneal tissue for transplant, SightLife partnered with Donate Life America to honor Heidi for her donation. Float artisans created a “floragraph” (floral portrait) of Heidi that joined 80 others depicting organ and tissue donors on the 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Sponsored by SightLife, the Zimmer family traveled to Pasadena to meet other donor families and transplant recipients and watch the parade live on New Year’s Day.