How Do You Choose a LASIK Surgeon?
A No-Nonsense Discussion
Once you’ve decided that you are ready to see clearly without glasses, where do you go? For someone who is not in the field of laser vision correction, the process of selecting a LASIK provider can be more than a little confusing. Making a direct comparison between LASIK providers can be difficult because there are many ophthalmologists who perform LASIK that use different laser systems. Here are some tips to help you make a wise choice. The following frank and straightforward tips will help you have a better understanding of your options when making your choice regarding LASIK surgery.
A Surgeon’s Experience
First, the amount of experience a surgeon has is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of care you will receive and obtaining a favorable outcome. Although LASIK is generally a very safe procedure, you will want a very experienced surgeon to perform the procedure. A more seasoned LASIK surgeon is not only less likely to experience complications, but is also more likely to be skilled and knowledgeable about how to manage those complications. Every surgeon will come across complications on occasion; they arise during all kinds of surgical procedures. However, the manner in which complications are managed can have a huge impact on the outcome.
Several published medical studies have shown that patients who receive treatment from surgeons with higher average annual caseloads have decreased complication rates compared with patients of surgeons who perform fewer procedures. Increased surgical experience has been proven to correlate with safer surgery and better outcomes. Just as a violinist may improve his or her skill with practice, a surgeon also refines his or her surgical skill with repeated performance of the same procedure. Additionally, a surgeon who has performed more procedures is also more likely to have managed rare complications in the past. Just as you would prefer a highly seasoned pilot as captain instead of an amateur pilot if a problem arose while on an airline flight, an experienced surgeon may make the difference in appropriate management of complications, whether during or after a procedure. In some cases there is only a small window of time for the right decision to be made. Good surgical judgment and experience are usually related and a careful, conservative approach is safest.
Number Of Procedures Performed
How can you determine a surgeon’s experience? The most important factor is how many times the surgeon has performed the same procedure. There is a big difference between performing LASIK surgery and other types of eye surgery. Eye operations such as cataract surgery and retinal surgery are completely distinct from refractive surgery and often use different instruments, techniques and staff.
Look For A Full-Time LASIK Surgeon
Many ophthalmologists advertise LASIK as part of a general ophthalmology practice. Most ophthalmologists who perform LASIK are general ophthalmologists who may perform LASIK on a very limited or part time basis as a small part of their comprehensive ophthalmology practice. Often, they will use a mobile laser that is delivered to their office once a month. On the other hand, there are refractive surgeons in some major cities who exclusively practice laser vision correction. These refractive surgeons usually perform more LASIK procedures in a single week than the national average number of LASIK procedures performed by all ophthalmologists in an entire year. Such a high level of experience may make all the difference in terms of your care and results.
In any area of human endeavor, to become good at what we do, practice is needed. In nearly every area of medicine, including areas like cardiac surgery, breast cancer treatment or bone marrow transplants, patients usually do better in specialized treatment centres. The keys to excellence in surgical outcomes are repetition and routine standardization. Repetition makes procedures routine and effortless. Patient outcomes can be complex on occasion and with experience, complication management becomes automatic and efficient. In nearly every city, it can be easy to find an ophthalmologist who performs LASIK as part of a general ophthalmology practice. There are relatively few surgeons who specialize exclusively in LASIK, and even fewer surgeons who have the experience of many tens of thousands of procedures. The surgeons at King LASIK specialize in and perform only laser vision correction. It’s what we do, day in and day out.
Equipment And Technology
In addition to a surgeon’s experience, the next most important consideration includes the technology used during the procedure. Traditionally, LASIK has been performed by using a blade to cut a flap in the cornea, whereupon a surgeon will reshape the cornea based on a patient’s prescription. Newer technology has made the procedure safer and more accurate than ever before. The most advanced treatment available today is a Wavefront-guided laser vision correction procedure that creates a flap with a laser. Most laser-made flaps are created using the IntraLase laser.
The WaveLight® Allegretto Ex500 laser is one of the most advanced laser available. It performs true Wavefront-guided treatments. A Wavefront-guided treatment is the only way to customize the treatment for an eye. Other lasers are available. Some laser centres may advertise the term “Wavefront” but the actual treatment may not be based on the Wavefront analysis of your eye. Confusing terms such as “wavefront optimized” or “zyoptix tissue saving” are sometimes used by some laser companies. Neither of these procedures are true Wavefront-guided treatments. Always ask to see your Wavefront analysis and the treatment plan for your vision correction. It’s OK to ask for copies of these studies as well. Wavefront testing is just one important part of the pre-op exam.
The new laser flap creation method, blade-free IntraLase, was designed with safety, precision, and comfort in mind. IntraLase has allowed even some patients previously deemed non-candidates to undergo the procedure. Though a blade-made flap remains an option for many, patients still find comfort in the choices new technologies now offer. Whichever method you choose, if a surgeon doesn’t at least offer an option of a laser-made LASIK flap, they may not have invested in the most advanced technology.
Criteria to consider:
Why King LASIK
How many laser eye surgeries has the surgeon performed?
Has the surgeon done an additional formal one to two year long post residency training at an accredited university with training in laser vision correction?
Has the surgeon done research in the field of refractive surgery?
Does the surgeon lecture to other doctors on the subject of laser eye surgery?
Does the surgeon train other doctors how to perform laser eye surgery?
Is the surgeon a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive surgery?
Is the surgeon board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology?
Is the surgeon board certified by the Royal College of Surgeons Canada?
Is Wavefront Analysis performed?
Do the doctors at the centre provide complete information to you and give complete answers to all of your questions regarding laser eye surgery?
Are eye pressure measurements taken?
Is computerized corneal topography offered?
Does the doctor require the patient to not wear contact lenses for a period of time before the examination that determines final treatment calculations?
Does the doctor measure the thickness of the cornea prior to making a recommendation?
Does the centre own its own state-of- the-art laser with Wavefront-guided capability?
Does the doctor have laser “eye tracking” technology to ensure the patient’s safety when (not “if”) the eye moves during the procedure?
Does the centre own a microkeratome used only by the centre’s surgeons and use new blades for every patient?
Does the centre have flexible hours, including evenings and Saturday hours?
Does the centre offer various financing options?
Does the centre provide affordable pricing with the highest quality of care?