Some patients may be under the impression that they are alone as they go through the process of researching and undergoing LASIK. This is not the case.
Each member of your eye care team plays a special, skilled role in ensuring that you receive the best LASIK experience possible. Most eye care offices are set up in a similar manner and consist of administrative and medical personnel. No matter their role, they are there to help you.
Patient Care Representatives
These members of the eye care team are your first point of contact, whether in person or on the phone. They provide any information you may need to have an effortless appointment. From directions to the office and hours of operation to insurance or referral information and scheduling follow-ups, these individuals make your transition in and out of the office as smooth as possible.
These team members work with your insurance providers and outside vendors to ensure that the claims related to your procedure have been properly processed. They are there to answer any questions you may have about charges, insurance claims or financial issues you have encountered as a result of your visit. Oftentimes, members of the billing team have received specialized training and certifications in medical billing and insurance claims. They are able to handle complex situations and solve financial problems should they arise.
Technicians, Nurses and Ophthalmic Assistants
These staff members not only assist the physicians in exam areas and operating rooms, they also serve as educators to the patient community, perform testing as directed by the physicians and help to create a comfortable environment for the patients. These skilled professionals usually hold certifications and licenses specific to ophthalmology and attend continuing education classes to constantly enhance their knowledge and expertise in ophthalmic assisting.
Opticians are not eye doctors (unlike an optometrist or ophthalmologist). Instead, opticians specialize in the ability to evaluate glasses and contact lens prescriptions, as well as measure facial features to ensure that a person’s eyeglasses fit properly on her face. Additionally, they have the skill to determine what frame style and shape will work best for a patient, and they can order the glasses or contacts with the refractive prescription that has been determined by the physician.
Optometrists are eye care professionals, state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system, as well as participate in pre- and post-procedure eye care for individuals undergoing LASIK and other eye surgeries. An optometrist has completed undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) who completed medical school, a one-year internship, a minimum three-year residency, and in some cases, a fellowship. An ophthalmologist has all of the same abilities as an optometrist, with the added ability to perform medical procedures, in the office and in an operating room, make diagnoses and prescribes all medications needed to treat a patient. Oftentimes an ophthalmologist will specialize in a particular part of the eye. For example, most LASIK surgeons tend to be corneal specialists.
Being involved with your eye care team and knowing who to go to when you have questions can save you time. When choosing the eye care practice that works best for you and your family, take the time to visit several and determine if you like the atmosphere created by the eye care team. Their job is to make you feel as comfortable and informed as possible, so you can make smart decisions and get the best care for your eyes.