Picking a Doctor for Laser Eye Surgery
As we said before, they're your eyes so picking a good doctor is important. But how to do it? Although there's not doctor out there who is ever 100 percent perfect, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
- Be wary of slick advertising. Don't be taken in by a great-looking brochure. A great deal of competition for laser eye surgery patients means a great deal of advertising: newspapers, radios, mailings, you name it. “No interest! No money down! Lowest prices ever!” (Are these your eyes, or a used Honda Civic they're talking about?) Of course, good doctors advertise, too, but an ad should not be your starting (or ending!) point in picking a place to have your procedure done.
- Be cautious of any doctor or eye center that makes loads of fabulous-sounding promises, without informing you adequately about the risks and drawbacks. “20/20 Vision... Guaranteed!” There are no guarantees in any surgical procedure. And a doctor who doesn't talk with you about the risks and drawbacks isn't being upfront.
- Get a referral. Your regular ophthalmologist, optometrist or even your general practitioner probably has the names of the best eye surgeons in your area. This is one of your greatest resources. Do not pass it up.
- Ask questions. In this culture we're often taught to treat our doctors like priests... “Don't question the Word of the Good Doctor!!” But in the case of laser eye surgery, it's best to ask, ask and ask again.
The Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance has prepared a list of 50 questions you should ask your doctor before surgery (along with the answers you should be looking for!) Here are a few of them:
- How long have you been practicing refractive surgery? Not less than three years.
- How many surgeries in the last twelve months? Not less than 250.
- What percent of your patients receive 20/20 vision or better? The answer should be somewhere around 50 percent. If he answers more than 50 percent, ask for proof.
- What percent (or number) of your patients report unresolved complications six months after surgery? About 3 percent is the norm. If he says less, ask for proof. If the answer is “never” or “none,” that's cause for concern. No doctor is perfect.
For a complete questionnaire, along with a printer-friendly version, go to: