Many prospective LASIK patients believe all procedures are identical and performed by equally-qualified doctors. The truth is, a broad range of LASIK procedures are performed by doctors with varying qualifications. What can you do to ensure that your LASIK experience is the best possible? Do your research and ask plenty of questions. Outlined below are four easy-to-remember questions for your potential LASIK surgeon.
What is your educational and professional background?
Many patients fear that asking too many questions of medical providers will cause the physicians to become irritated and unwilling to treat the patients. In most cases, this apprehension is completely unfounded. Physicians, especially surgeons, are committed to their patients and work to provide excellent care. LASIK surgeons are no different.
When meeting your prospective LASIK physician for the first time, it is perfectly acceptable to ask about his education, medical residency and previous practices. Some physicians may even offer this information to you without you having to ask. Also, inquire about a surgeon’s certification status. An experienced, qualified LASIK surgeon should hold a certification from the American Optometric Association (AOA) or similar organization.
If the physician you are speaking with holds no such certifications, you should ask why. On the rare occasion that the physician is reluctant to answer questions about his background, seek a consultation with another doctor.
Am I a good candidate for LASIK?
Unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set guidelines to ensure that people who undergo the procedure have the best possible outcome. These guidelines are based on what leading authorities in the field of vision correction have recommended after years of extensive clinical trials, studies and follow-ups.
The FDA also produced information about these guidelines for prospective patients. Read this information and use it to develop questions for your potential doctor. Factors such as age, contact lens use, fluctuation in refractive prescription and medical history should also be discussed, as they could all potentially impact the results of LASIK.
What diagnostic tests will you perform?
Even if you get your eyes checked every year, a LASIK surgeon will require an additional examination in her office. This examination, at minimum, should include a basic vision check, a refraction test, a pachymetry test, corneal topography and a slit lamp exam. If any of these tests are not performed, ask the physician why this is the case. Corneal pachymetry and topography are essential tests for a successful LASIK outcome. The doctor might also perform a Schirmer’s test and a dilated exam.
Which kind of LASIK do you recommend for me, and how many procedures of that type have you performed?
There are two commonly performed types of LASIK: conventional and bladeless. In both LASIK procedures, a corneal flap is created. The surgeon then uses a medical laser to reshape the underlying layers of the cornea. The difference between the two procedures is what device is used to create the corneal flap. As the name implies, bladeless LASIK creates the corneal flap with the use of a laser instead of the thin blade used in conventional LASIK. It is important to know which style of LASIK the surgeon thinks is best for you and how many of those procedures she has successfully performed.
These questions are merely a starting point. Be sure to take time before your appointment to write out your questions, leaving ample room to record the surgeon’s responses.
Remember, you do not have to schedule surgery the day of your consult — nor do you have to schedule with the first physician you visit. In many cases, getting a second or even third opinion can help you to make the best decision about your LASIK procedure and whom you would like to perform it. Getting educated and assuming responsibility for your own healthcare helps ensure you get the best possible outcome.