Elderly person waiting for cataract surgery

Imagine a world where blurry vision, double vision, and difficulty seeing in low light are no longer concerns for you. Cataract surgery offers that possibility, but it’s no secret that the waiting time in Saskatchewan can be frustrating. In this blog post, we will uncover what influences wait times, explore potential strategies for improvement, and provide tips for those waiting for cataract surgery. Get ready to see the world of cataract surgery in Saskatchewan in a whole new light!

Key Takeaways

  • Cataract surgery wait times in Saskatchewan have increased due to various factors, including the availability of resources and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Strategies like centralized referral systems and increasing funding can help reduce waiting times for cataract surgery.
  • Patient education is essential to ensure timely access to care. Seniors should consult their healthcare provider or ophthalmologist for more information.

Cataract Surgery Wait Times in Saskatchewan

The waiting game for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan can be quite the rollercoaster. On average, patients wait about nine months for the first eye, ranging from two to 25 months. For the second eye, the waiting time decreases to around 13 months, ranging from one week to 18 months. This may seem like a long time, but once you’ve had the surgery, you can look forward to a relatively quick recovery, typically from a couple of days to six weeks.

Various factors can influence cataract surgery wait times in Saskatchewan, such as:

  • Availability of resources
  • Efficiency of healthcare facilities
  • Seasonal changes
  • Number of patients who need the surgery

Long wait times can negatively affect how long patients’ well-being is affected, leading to more falls and depression.

The role of healthcare systems in managing and reducing wait times is significant. Next, we will examine the factors that affect these times and the strategies employed to shorten them.

Factors Affecting Wait Times

As mentioned earlier, several factors can impact cataract surgery wait times in Saskatchewan. During the fiscal year 2020-2021, the average wait time increased to 18.2 weeks. The reasons for this increase can be attributed to:

  • Availability of resources
  • Efficiency of healthcare facilities
  • Seasonal changes
  • Number of patients requiring surgery

Managing the wait list for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan is paramount due to the potential negative impacts of extended wait times on patients’ quality of life, such as the increased risk of falls and depression. Next, we will delve into some strategies to reduce wait times and enhance patients’ well-being.

Strategies to Reduce Wait Times

One way to reduce wait times is by implementing centralized referral systems, potentially reducing wait times by up to 30%. Most surgeons are ready to transition to centralized wait lists, but they need some help in the process. Hospitals and the government play an important role in setting up these centralized systems, requiring infrastructure and support. Over the past few fiscal years, efforts have been made to reduce wait times for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan.

Another strategy that can help reduce wait times is increasing surgical equipment and personnel funding. This would allow healthcare providers to perform more surgeries and use their resources more efficiently, ultimately leading to shorter patient wait times. Sometimes, these efforts can reduce wait times by four weeks or more.

The Current State of Cataract Surgery in Saskatchewan

Cataract surgery in Saskatchewan typically occurs on an outpatient basis, with either local anesthesia or topical anesthetic eyedrops. The wait time for cataract surgery has risen from 14.4 weeks in 2019-2020 to 18.2 weeks in 2020-2021. This is an increase of 4 weeks. This is longer than the average wait time for other provinces in Canada. This was largely due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, what is the state of cataract surgery in Saskatchewan, and what steps are being taken to reduce wait times? Here are some key points:

  • Saskatchewan performs around 10,000 cataract surgeries annually.
  • The availability of resources influences the number of surgeries, the number of certified surgeons, and the number of people seeking treatment.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a major impact on the number of surgeries performed, with changes in wait times and procedures, lessons learned and future implications.

Number of surgeries performed annually.

With approximately 10,000 cataract surgeries performed each year in Saskatchewan, it’s clear that there is a high demand for this life-changing procedure. However, the number of surgeries performed is influenced by various factors, such as the availability of resources, the number of certified surgeons, and the number of people seeking treatment.

Addressing these factors reduces wait times and enhances access to this important service.

The average waiting time for patients.

Wait times in Saskatchewan can vary depending on the type of care you need. Here are some average wait times:

  • Walk-in clinics: 51 minutes in 2022
  • Surgeries: 20.3 weeks between seeing a general practitioner and receiving treatment
  • Cataract Surgery: 12 weeks from seeing an ophthalmologist and receiving treatment
  • CT scans: 89 days (90th percentile) in the first quarter of 2023-24

Remember that these wait times are merely estimates and can vary.

When comparing the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, it’s clear that the wait time for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan has significantly increased. This surge in wait times is primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed unprecedented strain on healthcare resources and necessitated changes in medical procedures and priorities. This situation underscores the urgent need for continued efforts to address demand and capacity, ensuring timely access to cataract surgery for patients in Saskatchewan.

Comparison with other provinces in Canada.

Saskatchewan is making commendable strides compared to other provinces in reducing cataract surgery wait times. However, remember that wait times can fluctuate and change over time. Saskatchewan can potentially reduce wait times for cataract surgery by learning from other provinces and implementing effective strategies.

Cataract Surgery Wait Times Across Canadian Provinces: A 2022 Review

ProvinceCataract Removal Wait Times (2022)Wait Time to Consultation with a Specialist (2022)
British Columbia (BC)18.0 weeksN/A
Alberta (AB)20.0 weeksN/A
Saskatchewan (SK)12.0 weeks11.9 weeks
Manitoba (MB)61.0 weeksN/A
Ontario (ON)20.0 weeks10.1 weeks
Quebec (QC)16.0 weeks10.9 weeks
New Brunswick (NB)24.0 weeks19.4 weeks
Nova Scotia (NS)18.0 weeks37.3 weeks
Prince Edward Island (PE)36.0 weeks41.7 weeks
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)56.0 weeksN/A
Note: The waiting time represents the duration from the referral by a general practitioner to the consultation with a specialist. For some provinces, the wait time for consultation with a specialist is unavailable (N/A).

Initiatives to Reduce Waiting Times

Numerous initiatives can be taken to reduce wait times for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan. These include:

  • Implementing a surgical initiative program
  • Increasing funding
  • Improving efficiency in the surgical process
  • Setting up private surgery centers

These measures could help reduce wait times.

Technological advancements, such as telemedicine, can also play a significant role in reducing wait times. Lastly, raising patient awareness and education about cataract surgery can help manage expectations and reduce anxiety.

Next, we will delve into some of these initiatives.

Government and healthcare system interventions.

The government and healthcare system can reduce wait times for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan by:

  • Implementing a nationwide policy
  • Increasing funding and resources
  • Introducing wait time reduction programs
  • Expanding the role of non-physicians
  • Allowing patient choice
  • Improving surgical performance and wait time information

By working together, the government and healthcare system can ensure patients receive timely access to this essential procedure.

These measures can help ensure that patients receive the care they need promptly. The

Public-private partnerships

Public-private partnerships can help address the demand for cataract surgery and reduce wait times in Saskatchewan. Here are some benefits of setting up private surgery centers:

  • More capacity
  • Greater efficiency
  • Access to specialized equipment and technology
  • Ability to be more flexible with scheduling

This collaboration between the public and private sectors can lead to a more efficient healthcare system and ultimately result in shorter patient wait times.

Technological advancements and telemedicine

Technological advancements and telemedicine can significantly affect Saskatchewan’s wait times for cataract surgery. With teleconsultations, waitlisting via videoconference, reduced travel time, and efficient resource scheduling, technology can help streamline the referral process and reduce patient wait times.

Embracing technology in healthcare systems can lead to a more efficient and patient-centred approach to care.

Patient education and awareness campaigns

Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative - Putting Patients First
The Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative Website http://specialists.health.gov.sk.ca/

Patient education and awareness campaigns have a significant role in reducing wait times for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan. By increasing awareness, promoting early detection and intervention, ensuring a better understanding of the procedure, and empowering patients, these campaigns can help manage wait times and improve patient outcomes.

Education and awareness are critical in reducing wait times for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan.

Tips for Patients on the Waiting List

While waiting for cataract surgery, patients should be mindful of any changes in vision, such as blurriness, double vision, difficulty seeing in low light, and any pain or discomfort in the eyes. To manage these symptoms, patients can use over-the-counter eye drops, wear sunglasses to reduce glare, and protect their eyes from the sun.

In addition, patients can consult their family doctor, explore alternative treatments, get a second opinion from another ophthalmologist, and stay informed about the latest advances in cataract surgery.

How to manage and cope while waiting for surgery

Patients should prioritize their needs while waiting for cataract surgery. This includes caring for their physical and mental well-being, staying connected with loved ones, and managing stress levels.

Patients should also be proactive in staying informed about their condition and treatment options, attending appointments, and asking questions to their healthcare providers. By taking these steps, patients can better manage their symptoms and cope with the wait time for surgery, especially when many patients are waiting.

Opting for a Short Notice List

Another option for patients looking to reduce their wait time for cataract surgery potentially is to go on a short-notice list. This list is for patients who are flexible with their schedule and can be available for surgery at short notice.

What is a Short Notice List?

A short notice list lists patients who have indicated their willingness to have their surgery at short notice. This could mean being ready for surgery if there is a cancellation or an extra slot becomes available.

Benefits of a Short Notice List

Being on a short notice list can reduce the waiting time for cataract surgery. However, it requires a certain degree of flexibility on the patient’s part, as they may be called in for surgery with little notice.

How to Get on a Short Notice List?

Patients can express their interest in being on a short-notice list to their healthcare provider or ophthalmologist. Discussing the implications and requirements of being on such a list is important to ensure it aligns with the patient’s availability and lifestyle.

Things to Consider

While a shorter wait time may be appealing, patients should consider their schedule and ability to commit to a potentially sudden surgery date. Before opting for a short notice list, transportation, post-surgery care, and time off work should be considered.

Pooled Referrals and Their Impact on Wait Times

Pooled referrals assign patients to the next available surgeon rather than to a specific surgeon of their choice. This approach is designed even out to wait times among surgeons and potentially reduce overall patient wait times.

Does Your Surgeon Participate in Pooled Referrals?

Before being referred for cataract surgery, it’s important to ask whether the surgeon you refer to participates in the pooled referral system. This can influence your wait time for surgery. If your surgeon participates in pooled referrals, you could have your surgery sooner than if you were waiting for a specific surgeon.

Implications of Pooled Referrals on Surgical Wait Times

The implications of pooled referrals on surgical wait times can be significant. If your surgeon participates in a pooled referral system, you may be able to have your surgery sooner than if you were waiting for a specific surgeon. However, this also means you may not have a choice in who performs your surgery.

While pooled referrals can potentially reduce wait times, it’s important to consider your comfort level with potentially having your surgery performed by a different surgeon than the one you initially chose. Discuss this with your healthcare provider to make an informed decision about your cataract surgery journey.

Evaluating Your Surgeon’s Waiting List

Before being referred to a cataract surgeon, it’s highly recommended that patients inquire with their Family Doctor or Optometrist about the length of the surgeon’s waiting list. This can provide a more accurate estimate of how long you might have to wait for your surgery and can influence your decision about whether to go ahead with that particular surgeon or seek out another one with a shorter waiting list.

This page is difficult to navigate to, but the you start at http://specialists.health.gov.sk.ca/specialist-directory/ on the click of the “head” part of the diagram, you will be on your way to getting there.

Why Check the Surgeon’s Waiting List?

Checking the surgeon’s waiting list in Saskatchewan can give you a clearer understanding of when you can expect to have your surgery. Long waiting lists might suggest a high demand for the surgeon’s services, which could be a testament to their skills and expertise. However, it could also mean a longer wait time for you.

How to Check the Surgeon’s Waiting List?

To check the surgeon’s waiting list, you can ask the surgeon or their administrative staff directly. They should be able to provide you with an approximate wait time. Remember that these times can change due to cancellations or changes in the surgeon’s schedule.

What to Consider?

When evaluating the waiting list length, consider your needs and circumstances. A shorter waiting list might be more suitable if your cataract symptoms impact your daily life. On the other hand, if your symptoms are mild, you might decide that waiting a bit longer for a highly recommended surgeon is worth it.

Remember, the choice of surgeon and the wait time for surgery is ultimately your decision. Ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision that is best for you.

Seeking alternative treatments or consultations

Although surgery is recommended for cataracts, patients on the waiting list may consider alternative treatments or seek additional consultations. For example, they can look into laser eye surgery, intraocular lenses or even consult another ophthalmologist for a second opinion.

Patients should weigh their options and decide what is best for their unique situation.

Advocating for oneself: Asking questions and staying informed

Self-Advocacy TechniquesDescription
Asking questionsStaying Informed
Patients should jot down important points during appointments to remember details and follow up on them later.Patients should regularly update their knowledge about their condition and potential treatment options.
Taking notesPatients should be present and actively participate during important events like consultations or procedures.
Preparing a list of questionsBefore any appointment, patients should prepare a list of questions they want to ask their healthcare provider.
Identifying needsPatients should be able to identify what they need from their healthcare provider and communicate it effectively.
Being present and engagedDuring important events like consultations or procedures, patients should be present and actively participate.
Communicating needsPatients should clearly communicate their needs and preferences to their healthcare providers to receive appropriate care.
Knowing patient rightsPatients should be aware of their rights in a healthcare setting to ensure they are treated fairly and respectfully.
Being aware of potential biasesPatients should be aware of potential biases in healthcare and speak up if they feel they are being unfairly treated.
By being proactive and informed, patients can take control of their healthcare journey and ensure they receive the best possible care.

When to Schedule Surgery

The best time for seniors to schedule cataract surgery is when symptoms interfere with their daily activities and quality of life. Healthcare providers and ophthalmologists can help determine the right timing for each individual based on their specific needs and the severity of their cataracts.

By scheduling surgery at the appropriate time, seniors can ensure they receive the maximum benefit from the procedure, improving their vision and overall quality of life.

The Future Outlook

The future outlook for cataract surgery wait times includes predictions for improvement, ongoing research, and the role of healthcare policy. In the past, the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative worked to bring wait times down to three months from booking to completion.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted cataract surgery wait times, leading to changes in procedures and future implications. As we move forward, ongoing research and innovation in cataract surgery, as well as healthcare policy and funding, will play a crucial role in addressing wait times.

Predictions for waiting times in the coming years

While it’s difficult to predict the exact future of cataract surgery wait times in Saskatchewan, continued efforts to meet the demand and increase capacity may lead to improvement. The government and healthcare system are taking action, public-private partnerships are being formed, and technology is being utilized to reduce wait times.

As we continue to learn from the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and implement effective strategies, wait times for cataract surgery may gradually decrease in the coming years.

Ongoing research and innovations in cataract surgery

Ongoing research and innovations in cataract surgery have the potential to impact wait times significantly. For example, the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative sought to reduce wait times from booking to completion to three months.

In addition, new technologies, such as phacoemulsification and premium intraocular lenses, are being adopted in Saskatchewan. As research and innovation continue to advance, we can expect to see more efficient procedures and better patient outcomes, ultimately leading to shorter wait times for cataract surgery.

The role of healthcare policy and funding

Healthcare policy and funding are significant in addressing cataract surgery wait times. The resources available, such as funding for surgical equipment and personnel, can affect how quickly healthcare facilities can perform cataract surgeries.

Additionally, healthcare policies related to wait time targets and prioritization criteria can affect the order in which patients receive surgery, potentially leading to longer wait times for some individuals. By implementing effective healthcare policies and securing adequate funding, we can work towards reducing wait times for cataract surgery in Saskatchewan.


In conclusion, the landscape of cataract surgery wait times in Saskatchewan is complex, influenced by various factors and requires multi-faceted solutions. By understanding the factors that affect wait times, exploring effective strategies to reduce them, and learning from the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can work towards a brighter future for cataract surgery patients in Saskatchewan. Let’s strive for better access to this life-changing procedure so everyone can enjoy the gift of clear vision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cataract surgery covered in Saskatchewan?

Yes, cataract surgery is covered in Saskatchewan. However, premium lenses that are correct for astigmatism and near vision may be out-of-pocket expenses. Generally, your vision will be blurry immediately after the surgery but should improve within 24-48 hours.

How many people are waiting for surgery in Saskatchewan?

Currently, over 32,000 Saskatchewan residents are waiting for surgery. Unfortunately, wait times have increased since 2014, with a median wait time of more than 30 weeks in 2022. The waitlist hit a pandemic peak of 35,499 in November 2021.

How long is the wait for cataract surgery in Canada?

On average, you can expect to wait 16 weeks (112 days) for cataract surgery in Canada. There is no consensus yet on what constitutes high-risk patients, so the benchmark applies to all priority levels.

What factors affect cataract surgery wait times in Saskatchewan?

Cataract surgery wait times in Saskatchewan are affected by the availability of resources, efficiency of healthcare facilities, seasonal changes, and the number of people needing surgery.

How can the government and healthcare system help reduce wait times for cataract surgery?

The government and healthcare system can reduce wait times for cataract surgery by implementing nationwide policies, increasing funding and resources, introducing wait time reduction programs, and improving surgical performance and wait time information.


  1. Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on elective cataract … – PubMed: This source mentions that the average wait time for cataract surgery increased from 14.4 ± 1.4 weeks in 2019-2020 to 18.2 ± 2.7 weeks in 2020-2021.
  2. Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on elective cataract surgery … – NCBI: This article also confirms the increase in wait time for cataract surgery from 14.4 weeks in 2019–2020 to 18.2 weeks in 2020–2021.
  3. Wait times for priority procedures in Canada, 2022 | CIHI: This source provides information on wait times for cataract surgery across Canada, which can be used to compare Saskatchewan’s wait time with the national average.
  4. Surgical Performance and Wait Times – Government of Saskatchewan: This is the official government page that provides data on surgical performance and wait times in Saskatchewan.
  5. To provide up-to-date information on Saskatchewan’s cataract surgery wait times in comparison to other Canadian provinces, I found several relevant sources:
  6. Surgical Performance and Wait Times – Government of Saskatchewan: This interactive tool by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) allows you to see Saskatchewan’s performance compared to other provinces.
  7. Explore wait times for priority procedures across Canada | CIHI: This visualization tool by CIHI lets you explore wait times for various priority procedures, including cataract surgery, across Canada.
  8. Waiting Your Turn: 2022 Report – Fraser Institute: This report indicates that overall waiting times for medically necessary treatment have increased since the previous year.
  9. Canada Waits – Your One Stop for Health Care Data: This source provides data on patients waiting to see specialists in various provinces.
  10. Tackling the Surgery Backlog in the Canadian Provinces: This document provides median wait times for cataract surgery, hip, and knee replacements in Canada from 2010–2019.


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.


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