More than 19 million people have benefited from having LASIK eye surgery over the last 20 years. However, according to an American Refractive Surgery Council survey, of the 80 percent of people who need vision correction and are thinking about LASIK, only two percent actually make their way into a surgeon’s office to see if the procedure is right for them.
Many people avoid taking this step because they’re not sure how to pick a surgeon, or they don’t know what to ask when they visit the surgeon’s office. If you’re interested in LASIK, but not sure about taking the next step, here are a few suggestions to help get you started:
- Do your research. You can find valuable information on the Internet (this site, for example covers a lot of LASIK topics) and at your local chamber of commerce. Check out medical organizations such as the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and AECOS. Get referrals from friends and family who have had the procedure. Ask them about their experiences and questions to ask your LASIK doctor. Speak with your physician and optometrist. Once you find a surgeon, get additional references from their patients.
- Ask about the surgeon’s experience. The more experience a surgeon has, the better. A reputable surgeon should welcome any inquiries into his training and expertise. It is not uncommon for a highly experienced surgeon to have performed more than 25,000 LASIK procedures. He or she should also meet the highest standards for selecting patients—including screening out those who aren’t good candidates. That can be 15-25 percent of patients. Certain medical issues, such as diabetes or thin or damaged corneas, may rule out LASIK as a good option for some people.
- Choose professionalism over price. It’s natural to want to get a good deal, but you can’t put a price on your vision and health. You should never feel pressured to have the procedure performed. A consultation shouldn’t feel like a sales process, it should be a thorough assessment of your eye health to gather all the information about you and your vision necessary to make a solid recommendation about vision correction.
- Ask about their technology. Not all LASIK surgeons have access to the same technology. And not all practices invest in the most advanced equipment. To ensure that you’re getting the best care, questions to ask your LASIK doctor about specific technology, including what LASIK technologies are available today, and why a particular one may be better for the vision correction procedure you need.
- Be comfortable with your surgeon. He or she should be eager to answer all your questions and help educate you so you can make an informed decision. You should be made fully aware of the risks and benefits. Be wary of a practice that over-promises. LASIK is a safe and effective procedure but there are limits to what it can achieve. Remember that your eyes will continue to change as you age and you may still need reading glasses when you’re older.
To help you prepare for a productive conversation with your surgeon, we’ve put together this LASIK patient checklist to help you organize your thoughts and guide you through your consultation.