Choose a LASIK Surgeon for Laser Eye Surgery
Reviewed by Leslie Doctor, M.D.
How to choose a LASIK Surgeon is one of the first questions that should come to mind when you begin to think about LASIK? If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses chances are that at some time you will find things about glasses and contacts that are just annoying enough to make you want to get rid of them. LASIK Eye Surgery is by far the most popular type of laser eye surgery for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. One of the reasons’s for LASIK’s popularity is that after almost 20 years of “real world” clinical experience, LASIK has withstood the test of time. That is to say, with proper and careful patient selection, realistic patient expectations and personal goals and an experienced, competent LASIK surgeon, LASIK has proven to be a safe, effective and predictable method of vision correction.
As with any surgery, there are certain people who should not have LASIK because they have specific contraindications to the procedure. Also, LASIK does have risks that one needs to fully understand in order to make an informed decision about whether or not it is worth having for you as an individual. Again, consulting a LASIK surgeon is the best way to insure that you have a very high likelihood of excellent results and that your expectations are fully realized.
Choosing a LASIK surgeon is without a doubt the most important decision that you will make when deciding to become less dependent on glasses or contact lenses. So how should you go about that decision?
First, ask people you know have had LASIK about their experience and their LASIK surgeon. Listen carefully. Word of mouth referral is a good place to start in order to at least begin the evaluation and consultation process. Just because you attend a LASIK consultation with a particular surgeon, does not mean that you have to select that practice for your surgery. Make sure that the practice and the manner in which the staff and the surgeon interact with patients are compatible with how you would like to be treated.
Second, avoid getting swept up by either flashy advertising and claims or price advertising. Consider responding to advertisements that present information in a balanced and educational manner or offer to arrange a consultation without obligation. This gives you further opportunity to meet the staff and ask questions to see if that practice is a “fit” for you. Flashy advertisements, especially those tempting you with low prices are almost always misrepresenting something. Low price advertising is generally a means to get you “in the door” where high pressure sales tactics and bait and switch techniques can be applied. Typically when you attend a consultation at one of these low price advertisers you find out that, “ that price is for the older laser, you should be treated on the new laser”, “that price is for people without astigmatism and you need to have your astigmatism treated”, “that price doesn’t include follow-up care and you need to have the follow-up care package”, “that price doesn’t include enhancements, and you should take the extra coverage for enhancements”, or a whole list of reasons why that low price doesn’t apply to you.
You should select a LASIK surgeon and practice that is known within the community. There is value and trust that can be assigned based on the reputation of the practice and its longevity. That is, they have visibility in the community and commitment to the community. Select a practice that you are confident will be around for years to come. Avoid LASIK centers that operate like a “Doc In the Box”, where surgeons come and go and employees hide behind the name of a corporate entity.
Finally, choose a LASIK surgeon who has sufficient overall experience in your type of LASIK procedure. Some surgeons and entities make claims similar to McDonald’s method…”Over 500,000 served”. Common sense tells you that there is a cumulative procedural experience volume that is sufficient for developing competence and skill. Generally that is 1,000-2,000 procedures. In order to maintain that competence a LASIK surgeon should probably perform about 20-30 procedures each month at a minimum. Bravado about having performed huge numbers of procedures may in fact be a warning sign that this particular practice operates like a production mill rather than a healthcare practice. This will be easy to determine by attending a consultation and seeing how you are treated. Remember, you want skill and experience but not to be treated like you are ordering a hamburger.
LASIK is a safe, effective and predictable method of correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism when you have been carefully examined and found to be a good candidate by an experienced LASIK surgeon.