How to Choose a Lasik Surgeon In NYC?
Feeling overwhelmed about which doctor to choose for your Lasik surgery is understandable. It’s OK! To help put your mind at ease, we put together some questions to consider when speaking to any Lasik practice so you can make an informed decision and feel good about this important step, both personally and financially.
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Choosing your surgeon might be the most important decision when getting LASIK. There are many criteria to consider, and so we’ve compiled some advice for choosing the best.
With each doctor you consider, verify their credentials and licensing which can be looked up online. Also determine if they are adequately experienced. An experienced LASIK surgeon should have performed a substantial amount of laser eye surgeries and should be performing LASIK on a regular basis. Ideally, they should also be an instructor of some kind, which ensures that they are up-to-date on the latest innovations and technology in the field. Your surgeon should also be able to turn down LASIK requests if they determine it would be unsafe/unhealthy for the patient, which is true in around 15-25% of patients interested in LASIK. In this case, they would offer alternative methods to LASIK, such as PRK, ICL, RLE, or SMILE. If you are not a candidate for LASIK because of a too high of a prescription, too thin of a cornea, or too irregular of a cornea, or even PRK (because of too high of a prescription), you would be a candidate still for some of the other procedures.
Also, consider if the LASIK surgeon have had success with the procedure on patients with your precise vision problems. In addition, consider how you feel when coming and leaving the consultation; comfort level in asking questions, if the information was communicated clearly with language and wording you can understand, if they are open to informing you which laser procedure is the best option for you and why, and any other gut feelings about the practice. A good place to start is by first getting informed on what LASER eye surgery entails, then obtaining recommendations from friends and family who have undergone the surgery. It is acceptable to ask the surgeon for contact information from previous patients who have had the recommended procedure and who have similar measurements/ calculations as you do. Vetting the surgeon, practice, and their outcomes will help you feel more comfortable in your selection. This is most likely more important than pure advertising.
What are their qualifications?
Your surgeon should be a fully licensed, board-certified ophthalmologist with proper surgical training and able to legally practice in your state. In addition, it helps if that surgeon has completed extra refractive training, which is usually a 1 year accredited fellowship in Refractive and Cornea Surgery. Your surgeon should also be licensed on each of the laser machines. If you are having ICL or RLE (both of which are intraoperative surgeries performed at an Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) and not just a laser center) your surgeon should be credentialed with the ASC as well. It is important that your surgeon currently perform laser surgeries on a regular basis. They should have previous success with the procedure on patients who had your precise vision problems and measurements. It is appropriate to ask how many procedures they have done, and what their visual outcomes are with each type of procedures. It is acceptable to read reviews online, and even ask to be put in touch with a patient who had similar visual needs and the surgery that is being recommended to you.
Which type of laser eye surgeries do you perform, and why?
There are more laser procedures for correcting vision than just LASIK surgery. Laser surgery also includes PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), SMILE (small incision lenticule extension), ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens), and RLE (Refractive Lens Exchange). Your surgeon should discuss at length with you on which surgery would best suit your needs with regards to your eye condition(s) and medical conditions as well as if they are able to perform that type of surgery. Some surgeons stick with just 1-2 procedures, while others are comfortable performing all the procedures and discussing them at length. Someone who only performs 1 of these procedures will obviously recommend this procedure each time, while someone who has expertise in all of the procedures will make an informed decision in their recommendation. Often there may be more than 1 procedure that is safe and acceptable, and you should have an informed
When do I meet the Lasik Surgeon?
Many centers have a full system in place and you see many people in the practice (technicians, optometrists) and only meet the surgeon the day of the surgery. This may be OK for some patients, but other patients would want to meet their surgeon and have a nuanced discussion with them prior to the day of surgery. You should pick a practice where you feel comfortable either way, and your questions should be answered and enough time spent with you. Preferably, your surgeon will be the one going over the medical and surgical details.
Unfortunately no insurance company covers any refractive procedure (LASIK, PRK, ICL, RLE, or SMILE). While cost is a variable, you are only having this procedure done once in your life, have likely been waiting for it for some time, and should make a decision that makes you feel comfortable. Deciding based on the cheapest available price is not recommended because that practice may be cost cutting in other areas to provide such a low cost. A practice should be able to provide some financial counseling, and help you navigate using your HSA (Health Savings Account)/ FSA (Financial Savings Account) pre-tax funds towards the cost of the procedure. Many practices also offer financial financing. Save money on entertainment, and spend it on something that will impact your visual health for the foreseeable future.
I went to 3 different surgeons and they told me 3 different refractive techniques- help!
It is OK to seek multiple opinions from multiple doctors, but then you may be stuck with 3 different opinions. The most important thing to look at when a surgeon is recommending something – is that the only procedure that they perform? It is important that a surgeon is comfortable with and performs all the different refractive procedures (LASIK, PRK, SMILE, ICL, and RLE) and is recommending an option based on knowledge of all the procedures, and not just because that is the only one they perform. After you have established that aspect then you want to know why one surgeon is going with a more conservative option while the others are not. Perhaps it is because the more conservative surgeon has more robust imaging that shows a marker on imaging that makes them recommend the more conservative option. For example, the curvature of your eye (topography) should be performed on a Pentacam topographer and this topographer has a special marker called the Belin Ambrosia ectasia score that predicts the chance that your cornea will become ectatic (weaker and thinner with age). If this marker comes up over a cutoff, then you should be recommended the more a different procedure other than LASIK. It is OK to ask each surgeon why they recommended a specific procedure – the more information you have, the more informed you will be in making a decision.
Do you feel comfortable?
At the end of the day, your surgeon is taking care of your eyes, and you, during this process. You want to feel comfortable and taken care of. Assuming that a surgeon is technically well-qualified, there should be a level of trust that happens as well. You should feel free to bring a family member, friend or even put someone on the phone that will help you make the decision ultimately. This feeling of trust and comfort is different for everyone, and just because a doctor is well-qualified and recommended does not mean that they are the right for you. You are only having this procedure performed once in your life and you should wait until you feel comfortable. Additionally, the timing has to be right. You should never be rushed or pressured into making a decision, and a few weeks or month either way will not make a big deal
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Your LASIK surgeon and practice should be credible with the proper certifications, licensure, and experience. Be sure to do diligent research to ask informed questions to your surgeons of interest in order to determine which surgeon is right for you. Take all the time you need in making this decision.
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Before surgery, expect to have an evaluation conducted by your eye doctor to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for lasik eye surgery and achieve optimal results. Before the evaluation, if you wear contacts, you will need to remain out of your contact lenses and switch to your glasses for some time as contact lenses can alter your cornea’s shape.