So many LASIK surgeons advertise they’ve done thousands of procedures. That’s impressive, no doubt. And the number of procedures does say something for the surgeon’s level of experience.
Like any surgery, however, quality over quantity applies to eye surgery, LASIK being no exception. The eye surgeon’s track record matters. It matters a lot because it is your eyesight we’re talking about.
Another commonly touted benefit: safety. There are stories about LASIK surgery complications; where the patient may have lost vision quality after surgery. Like any surgery there can be complications. On average, LASIK is one of the safest procedures you can have. In the hands of the right surgeon, the risk of serious complication can be as low as 1% or less.
Dr. Steven Wilson, staff ophthalmologist at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, says that if the right precautions are taken and the surgery is performed properly, “laser eye surgery is amazingly safe.” The risk your vision won’t be fully corrected is “less than 1%”. The most common risk is transient, or short term, dry eye. Yet, according to Dr. Wilson, there is no evidence to date that LASIK causes permanent dry eye.
Dr. Wilson notes that most negative stories online were from patients that had surgery at a less than reputable clinic. Or that someone may have been a candidate for PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) but went to a clinic or center that only does LASIK. PRK is a type of laser eye surgery used to correct mild to moderate nearsightedness and/or astigmatism, often an effective alternative for patients who aren’t candidates for LASIK.
The biggest question is, what type of reputation does the surgeon have? Is he or she known for “herding” patients through? Does his or her success rate compare to those in top percentage of surgeons in the U.S.? Is the surgeon careful to properly and thoroughly evaluate you to ensure your risks, prepared to recommend against LASIK if you’re not a candidate?
LASIK has become big business at many practices (particularly larger “chain” centers across the U.S.). But LASIK is about healthcare first and foremost. Dr. Wilson also notes to “be wary of eye centers with overblown claims or guarantees.” Like package deals, or promising “20/20 vision or your money back.” Further he advises not to choose a surgeon based on cost. That $299 per eye deal applies only to a small percentage of patients. And even if it applies to you, the follow up care can be lacking. It’s not about the number of surgeries; it’s about how many were done correctly.