Picking the right car to lease? Easy. Picking the right person to date? Piece of cake. Picking the doctor to perform corrective surgery on your eyes? Stressful.
Ok, all of those decisions are stressful, but this is on a whole other level, and rightfully so. These are your eyes. How do you possibly pick the right ophthalmologist?
Do you go by the best deal? Maybe, but these are your eyes we’re talking about here and an ad in a free newspaper for $299 LASIK doesn’t exactly inspire the most confidence…
You want to choose a doctor you’ll feel confident with, and it’s not a bad idea to consult with more than one before you decide. But how do you know how to stack them up against one another? What questions should you ask?
Try these ones:
Tell me about your training.
Of course you want your doctor to be licensed to perform LASIK in your state, but it’s also good to find out if she’s certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Board certified doctors are required to receive specific training, and to stay current on the latest and best practices by continuing their medical education to maintain their certification.
In addition, there are also fellowships in refractive and corneal surgery you can ask about, and any other credentials that might be relevant to their experience. Further, doctors that use specific LASIK technologies like the iDESIGN® system (more on that below) receive certification in those specific machines too.
What is your LASIK experience?
How many procedures do you perform in a year?
It’s good to get a sense for how often your surgeon is performing LASIK procedures for your own comfort.
Can you refer me to a former patient or two of yours I can talk to?
You’d ask for references from a contractor redoing your kitchen. It’s a good idea to get them for someone who’s about to correct your vision.
What equipment do you use?
Not all LASIK is created equal. There’s wavefront-guided and wavefront-optimized… (not the same thing — more on that on this FAQ page if you want to get into it). There are also different systems for measuring your eye prescription and performing the procedure that an ophthalmologist may have in their office, based on what they consider to be the best technology available.
It’s good to ask your doctor what machines they use and how long they’ve been working with them.
One example is the iDESIGN® system, which is part of the iLASIK® procedure. There was a time when the only tool ophthalmologists had to test your eyes for LASIK was a phoropter — that steampunk-looking device with the different lenses where your eye doctor asks, “Which one looks better, one or two?”
(This is a phoropter)
iDESIGN® doesn’t rely on guesswork. It bounces light through your eye and measures distortions in the light beam as it comes back out to get a comprehensive and unique snapshot of your vision prescription that’s 25x more precise than a phoropter’s is. That information is then incorporated into your unique LASIK procedure.
So that’s why it’s good to find out how your vision is being evaluated.
What kind of results can I expect?
Here’s where you get out all the burning questions: How well can I expect to see? What is recovery like? Does LASIK wear off? All of it.
While the doctor is best equipped to address your questions and concerns, there are a couple of things you should know. While a recent FDA study showed more than 95% of people who underwent LASIK were satisfied with their results, there are some common side effects to be aware of.
While side effects are rare they can include eye dryness, which may be severe, loss of visual acuity or the need for glasses and contacts after surgery, and visual disturbances like halos (hazy rings around lights), glare, starbursts, double images, and other visual irregularities that may be debilitating. Also, LASIK is not recommended if you have diabetes, a history of herpes simplex or herpes zoster keratitis, significant dry eye or serious allergies.
You can get full safety information here, and talk to your doctor about what your experience is likely to be like and anything you can do to impact the likelihood of side effects.
If you’re ready to have this conversation and just need a doctor to have it with, you can find one near you here. Most do consultations for free, so you can ask these questions to as many of them as you like.
© 2020 Johnson & Johnson Surgical Vision, Inc. iDESIGN® and iLASIK® are trademarks owned by or licensed to © 2020 Johnson & Johnson Surgical Vision, Inc. All other trademark are the intellectual property of their respective owners.