Read these 15 Choosing a Lasik Surgeon Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about LASIK tips and hundreds of other topics.
Your LASIK surgeon, or would-be LASIK surgeon, has just recommended an intraocular lens implant or a clear lens exchange over LASIK because you aren't a good candidate for LASER surgery. Do you seek a second opinion from another LASIK doctor?
Phakic intraocular lens implants (IOLs), which eliminate the need for cataract surgery when you're in your 60s, are a non-surgical alternative to LASIK, and are typically recommended for people with thin corneas and high degrees of myopia. Note that phakic IOLs carry the risk of:
* increased chance of retinal detachment
* loss of cells in the epithelium, the layer covering the covering the cornea
* cataracts (ironically)
In some cases you might still need LASIK after an IOL procedure--the good news is that IOLs aren't permanent.
You should note that if you want multifocal vision correction, research on multifocal intraocular lens implants continues.
A recommendation of lens implants will tell you one thing: your LASIK doctor has access to and is willing to use the latest technology, and that's a definite plus.
You wouldn't approve of used needles in a hospital, or dirty medical equipment during an appendectomy, so why would you accept anything less for an eye procedure?
When you're choosing a LASIK doctor, remember that microkeratome versus femtosecond doesn't matter as much as the way your LASIK doctor uses that high-tech laser. Two important tips will help you evaluate medical practitioners when you're choosing a LASIK surgeon:
1) The laser should be recalibrated at least every fourth use for maximum accuracy.
2) A new microkeratome incisor should be used for each patient.
Ask your LASIK surgeon about laser maintenance--it doesn't matter how good the tools are if the workman doesn't take care of them properly.
Your doctor has a photo and testimonial from Tiger Woods or Rodney Peete or Troy Aikman. That's well and good, you think, but what about complications that don't make it into the news, such as comedienne Kathy Griffin's continuing education about the perils of LASIK? In that case, a celebrity client can backfire on your LASIK surgeon. Beware of a LASIK eye surgeon who constantly brags about famous people he or she has treated.
Celebrity clientele shouldn't be your only criterion in choosing a LASIK doctor--although Tiger Woods' visual acuity in a sport that demands better than 20/20 uncorrected vision is a strong signal that your LASIK doctor is skilled.
Still star-struck, or skeptical? You can't call up a celebrity and ask about the procedure, but you can do research on the Internet and, if your celebrity is vocal about the procedure, read about the experience on, say, Tiger's official Web site. You should also ask to talk to the LASIK surgeon's non-celebrity patients.
Don't let star power dazzle you--the LASIK surgeon herself should be the main attraction, second, of course, to your vision.
Many people opt for LASEK over LASIK because they are wary of
microkeratome blades. In choosing a LASIK surgeon, ask whether you are a good candidate for LASEK, or if LASIK will give you better vision.
If your doctor recommends LASIK, you may get a second opinion, or you may ask about the femtosecond laser of IntraLase, the bladeless eye surgery.
If your second-opinion LASIK doctor recommends IntraLase, weigh the risks and benefits of both procedures. Ask your regular doctor whether you should have IntraLase.
You're not obligated to choose your regular ophthalmologist if you think that a second ophthalmologist may produce the results you want. You have to consider your relationship with your LASIK doctor, whether you trust and like your doctor, and whether a certain procedure is in your best interests. When choosing a LASIK surgeon, don't knock someone who's familiar with your medical history and interested in helping you see well.
You see a great ad for a LASIK doctor in the newspaper, but buyer beware. Just as you shouldn't pick a used car out of the classifieds without doing research, you shouldn't rush to call a LASIK surgeon after seeing a slick ad in the newspaper.
If the ad makes the procedure sound easier than it is and promises perfect vision with no reading glasses required afterwards, ditch the paper and walk into your local surgical or medical center. An established LASIK center, where surgeons have refined their techniques with the latest technology, is better than a Johnny-come-lately clinic that opened its doors six months ago. When choosing a LASIK doctor, you should be willing to accept that you won't get perfect results overnight, and a respectable surgeon won't promise miracles.
Also, when choosing a LASIK surgeon, beware of someone who claims to have used EpiLASIK or LASEK for ten years--these technologies are more recent.
The same holds true for Wavefront-guided custom LASIK.
Referrals from your optometrist or ophthalmologist, or from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, are your best bet. You can listen to testimonials from your pals, but check to see that the LASIK surgeon has the best reputation in your area if not the country you live in.
Put on your glasses, put down the newspaper, and Google your prospective LASIK doctor.
When choosing the LASIK surgeon that is right for you, it's a good idea to find out the types of lasers your doctor uses for the procedure. While many experts agree that it really comes down to doctor expertise and knowledge, knowing the type of laser that will be used in your eye surgery will help you feel more prepared.
It is essential to verify that the lasers used in the surgeon's office are FDA approved.
Finding an experienced LASIK eye surgeon is one of the most important steps when considering this type of surgery. Do an Internet search for doctors in your area, and get recommendations from friends and colleagues who have opted to have the surgery. Often times, word of mouth can supply you with great information.
You should also talk to your own physician for recommendations. Doctors are great resources, and chances are he or she has a trusted friend in LASIK surgery that they may recommend.
Finding an experienced eye surgeon doesn't have to be difficult. It may be time consuming however. This is a good thing, because you are making a choice to trust someone with your vision. Research is important when looking for experience!
The success of LASIK, as with any other surgical procedure, starts with choosing the right LASIK surgeon. It's the same as shopping for a pair of eyeglasses--except, of course, that you want to scratch the specs.
When you're choosing a LASIK surgeon, bring a list of questions --this is good advice for any medical procedure. Some important questions for your LASIK surgeon:
* How long have you been performing LASIK surgery?
* How many refractive and custom LASIK surgeries have you performed, especially procedures like mine?
* What percent of your patients receive 20/20 vision or better?
* Can I achieve 20/20 if I have myopia, astigmatism or hyperopia?
* What's the margin for error in this procedure?
* What kinds of complications, for example, dry eyes, starbursts, "haloes," fluctuations, blurring of distance vision, and so forth, occur and how soon do they disappear?
* When do you decline a surgery procedure? How many procedures have you declined?
* What kind of laser do you recommend for my eyes and what are the advantages?
* Will you perform a wavefront technology diagnostic? (Hint: The answer should be yes.)
* What was the worst surgery outcome you experienced and how was it handled?
* What percentage of LASIK patients require enhancement or corrective procedures after surgery and what are the results?
* What will my vision be like after surgery and how long will it take to recover?
* When can I resume normal activities and what activities should I avoid?
* Will my eyes be completely examined before and after the procedure?
* What might prevent me from having the results I want?
* What is the cost and does it include pre- and post-op visits/exams?
* How many post-op visits does the cost include?
You may also ask to talk to patients who have had the procedure and have had complications similar to what the LASIK doctor predicts you might have. While there's the issue of doctor-patient confidentiality, it's worth a try. You have the right and the responsibility to ask questions before your LASIK procedure.
When choosing a LASIK surgeon it is important to remember a few things.
First, always get a second opinion. You should compare several LASIK surgeons. LASIK surgery will vary from place to place, so it is best to find out risk levels and the positives from several surgeons before choosing one.
Talk to your insurance company about coverage before you choose a surgeon. Don't decide on a surgeon just because he or she quotes you a lower price than the others. Don't sway from surgeons who may charge you a bit more. Cheapest isn't always best and more expensive doesn't always mean better care or experience. It is important to find out as much information as possible about several surgeons before making your choice.
Make sure that each doctor you visit offers brochures on the LASIK procedure. Read over each page and ask the surgeon as many questions as possible, including those about negatives outcomes. A good surgeon will be upfront and honest with you about all possible outcomes of this procedure, including the pros and cons associated with the surgery.
When choosing a LASIK surgeon, you need to have realistic expectations. A good LASIK doctor will tell you that you can realistically expect:
* that fewer than 1% of all LASIK patients will have serious complications such as flap complications or infection, but complications can occur
* that your likelihood of having haloes and dry eyes, which aren't serious, is 3 to 5 percent
* that your overall health will affect your risk, but if you have healthy eyes and are in good physical condition, your results improve
* that you have at minimum a 42 percent chance of 20/20 uncorrected vision after treatment of hyperopia with LASIK after three months, according to the FDA, and a 76.8 percent chance of 20/40 vision
* that your LASIK surgeon can show at least 90 percent of her patients achieve 20/40 uncorrected vision after treatment, and 50 percent achieve 20/20 uncorrected vision
* that you'll still have to wear reading glasses, since your eyes will change after you get into your 40s--although you can reduce your dependence on wearing glasses all the time
When choosing a LASIK surgeon, ask hard questions and don't accept
You play football, basketball, and do mountain biking as well as rappelling. You're headed for the championships, where contact lenses and glasses might mean the difference between defeat and the gold.
When an athlete is choosing a LASIK doctor, the athlete should ask a coach or trainer for referrals to sports vision doctors. A sports vision specialist is aware of the special vision needs of athletes, particularly hand-eye-body coordination. Your sports ophthalmologist should ideally be a LASIK doctor as well.
If your coach or trainer can't recommend a sports vision specialist, try the American Optometric Association Sports Vision Section for referrals.
Choosing a LASIK surgeon who is a sports vision specialist combination is a great way to get your game on and go for the gold.
With any type of surgery, including LASIK eye surgery, it is important to always follow up with the doctor after surgery is completed. In most cases, doctors will want to see you within 24 hours of your completed surgery. Most likely with LASIK, your doctor will want to see you for two more visits after this first appointment.
Even if you are recovering nicely, it is important for the doctor to check your eyes for proper healing and to ensure that there is no infection. Following up with your doctor and making sure that you are present at all appointments after the surgery is important to proper healing.
Many surgeons may claim to be one of the best LASIK surgeons, but each patient must consider what is important to them when selecting a surgeon. This is important because there is no one surgeon who is the best for all patients. There may be some surgeons who are highly qualified with a great deal of experience, but if the patient is not comfortable with the surgeon, the patient may opt to select another surgeon instead.
Ideally the best LASIK surgeons are those surgeons who are not only highly skilled with a great deal of experience, but also help the patient feel comfortable and answer all of his questions accurately and honestly. In some cases, it may be necessary for a patient to choose between two surgeons who seem to have comparable qualifications and in this case the patient may use other factors, such as personality and price structure in making the decision.
Comparing LASIK eye surgeons can be a difficult and complicated process, but it is also a very important part of selecting the best surgeon for you. For this reason, special care and consideration should be given to this portion of the decision-making process. Before a patient begins the process of comparing LASIK surgeons, he should first create a list of the elements he wishes to consider in selecting a surgeon and should then prioritize this list to determine which elements are most important to him.
Some of the elements a patient may wish to consider when selecting LASIK eye surgeons may include training, qualifications, experience, previous success rate, trustworthiness, equipment used, maintenance of the equipment, cleanliness of the facility, friendliness of the staff, price and any other factors which may be important to the patient. After creating this list, the patient should determine which factors are most important to him and rank these factors accordingly. It is recommended that patients rank skill level and qualifications above all other elements to ensure they are selecting the most skilled LASIK eye surgeon, but all other elements can be ranked according to personal preference.
Once a prioritized list of considerations is established, the patient can begin interviewing and researching potential LASIK eye surgeons to determine how highly each surgeon ranks in each category. This makes it easier to compare the surgeons and determine which one is the best choice for a particular patient.
When choosing to undergo the LASIK procedure, the patient will undergo a surgical consultation. This consultation takes place before the surgery and is a comprehensive check-up for your eyes. During this consultation the surgeon will do a number of things.
-The consultation will include screening for 40 different eye and health issues. The patient will receive 20 different tests and eye scans to check for infections and diseases.
-You will have a routine eye exam. If your vision is determined to be very poor, you might not be a candidate for LASIK.
-Your doctor will check your patient history. Doctors prefer to operate on patients over the age of 18; whose eyewear prescription has not changed in two years. If your eyes are still in the process of growing or changing, the doctor will most likely avoid LASIK surgery on you.
-Your doctor will also examine the posterior and the anterior of your eye. During these exams, your cornea, iris, and lens will be checked, along with tests for various eye conditions or infections.
If your doctor finds any infections, eye conditions (such as glaucoma) or any abnormalities, you will need to talk with your doctor about other options for LASIK. If all tests come back negative, then you are most likely a candidate for the LASIK surgery and you should discuss next steps with your doctor.
The more prepared you are going into your surgical consultation, the more prepared you will be if surgery is deemed to be unsafe for you.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|