Before choosing to have LASIK, it’s important to do your homework to ensure you find the best surgeon, understand the potential risks and benefits, and have realistic expectations about what your vision will be like after surgery and for years to come.
When choosing a LASIK surgeon, you want to find someone you feel comfortable with and trust. They should be able to help you figure out which particular LASIK procedure is ideal for you and provide a recommendation based on several factors, such as existing health conditions, prescription and your goals for vision correction.
When beginning your search for a LASIK surgeon, your primary care physician or eye care professional can provide you with recommendations. You should then consider some of the following factors:
Licensing. State licensing boards can validate a surgeon’s credentials.
Board certification. Ask if your surgeon is certified beyond having a basic license to practice medicine. This means that an entity recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties has certified the surgeon to practice his or her specialty. The American Board of Ophthalmology is one such entity that requires board-certified physicians to complete specific training and continuing education related to their specialty.
American College of Surgeons (ACS) membership. The ACS upholds ethical standards of conduct for all members, who must be board certified. Surgeons who use the designation “FACS” after their names are Fellows of the American College of Surgeons.
Advertisements. Many refractive surgery centers advertise in newspapers, television, on the radio and the internet. Some ads are more informative than others. Some promote extremely good pricing. But while this can be a starting point, an ad or a procedure price should not be your primary criteria when choosing a doctor or a center.
Referrals. Ask for a referral from your regular eye care practitioner, whether an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Tell your doctor that you want the LASIK surgeon in your area with the best reputation in the profession.
Experience. It is important to choose a LASIK eye surgeon who is highly experienced and skilled in the type of procedure you require. Although there is some debate on this topic, many leading experts in the field consider a surgeon who has performed more than 1000 laser eye procedures to be experienced – naturally experience goes hand in hand with competence and skill. Most laser eye surgery clinics will have brochures and websites that list their surgeon’s qualifications and experience. Also this can be helpful if you have been recommended a particular laser eye surgeon as their names will be available.
Technology. When it comes to LASIK, technology matters. Make sure you not only get information about the surgeon, but also the technology. LASIK is performed in two main steps. The first is the creation of a flap in the cornea, the outer layer of the eye. The flap is then lifted back, and an excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea underneath the flap. Using the latest technology to create the flap and reshape the cornea is crucial for a safe, effective LASIK surgery.
At the time of your consultation, there are some questions you may want to ask the surgeon:
Who does the procedures?
How many procedures have you done?
Do you have student interns in training?
Will you use the femtosecond laser or the blade to create my flap?
Do you perform procedures at your own center, or do you need to travel elsewhere?
Has the surgical center you use ever had an outbreak of serious eye infections?? If so, what caused this?
If a complication does occur, what is your specific policy regarding follow-up?
Do you charge extra if an enhancement is required?
You need to be confident that you have chosen the right person. Your vision is precious and you want your laser vision correction procedure to be a once in a lifetime experience.