How Choose a Lasik Surgeon

Choosing to have LASIK is a big decision. Yet, a bigger decision is how to choose a LASIK surgeon. The work he does will affect your vision for the rest of your life. This isn’t the time to be bargain hunting. Instead, treat yourself to the best money can buy.

Before you can decide when to have your surgery done, or even how to pay for it you need to know which surgeon to choose. Thanks to the amount of information available learning how to choose a LASIK surgeon isn’t as hard as it sounds

Screening begins with talking to people. Ask your optometrist or family physician for referrals. Find people who have had surgery and ask about their surgeon, the clinic and staff and their experience. Follow up by verifying what you hear.

Most LASIK surgeons now have websites that you can visit to learn some basic information about them and their practices. Set aside time to call each clinic and ask some questions.

Your goal is to single out the best, most reputable surgeons that you would trust to do your surgery, then carefully select the best one of those for your LASIK treatment.

Education, Licensing, Credentials, Qualifications and Affiliations

The next step in “how to choose a LASIK surgeon” may seem obvious but it is often ignored. Check the credentials (education, post-grad education, licenses, certifications) of each surgeon on your list.

The agency name through which each state licenses its physicians varies from state to state. A quick call to your state Capitol or a visit to your state’s website should provide contact information you need.

Your state licensing agency should offer easy access to the list of eye surgeons who have held licenses in that state. This should include the current status–active or inactive–of each licensee.

A lesser-known step in “how to choose a LASIK surgeon” is searching national databases. In addition to state licensing agencies, you can learn about doctors through the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

This database provides information about medical malpractice settlement payments made for claims against physicians. You can also find out if any peer review actions or disciplinary or restricting actions have been taken against a surgeon. The American Medical Association (AMA) has more information about this database.

Most professionals belong to organizations that set and monitor standards of practice for their services. Your surgeon should be a member in good standing of the recognized organizations relating to eye surgery.

Your efforts in how to choose a LASIK surgeon should include verifying memberships and standing in:

  • The American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO), one of the many organizations under the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) requires a minimum number of hours of continuing education in eye surgery, eye diseases and conditions, and anesthesia to maintain board certification.
  • The American College of Surgeons (ACS). The ACS establishes practice standards and ethics. Surgeons must demonstrate their qualifications to practice, including education requirements and being board certified to be accepted as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and allowed to use the designation FACS.
  • What To Ask Your Eye Surgeon

    The final step to choose a Lasik surgeon is to narrow your list. Then meet and speak with them personally. Many offer a free introductory consultation.

    One of the most important steps in how to choose a LASIK surgeon takes place during this interview. During this consultation ask as many questions as possible. You need to prepare carefully for this meeting.

    Your questions need to establish the level of experience this surgeon has had, first, in eye surgery in general. Once you’ve been diagnosed you’ll want to know how much experience he has had in the specific procedure with the specific equipment to be used in your surgery.

    No matter how skilled he is in every other aspect of his practice, if he has had fewer than 100 successful surgeries using both the procedure and technology that he recommends for yours he is too inexperienced for you to trust your eyes to him at this point.

    See our article, Questions to Ask Your Eye Surgeon for more information about what to ask your eye surgeon. These questions are good criteria in deciding how to choose a LASIK surgeon(Coming soon).

    Ask as many questions as you can and don’t settle for generalized answers. Your surgeon should be able to give you specific and detailed information, and may have many answers prepared in a handout for you.

    After you’ve chosen your surgeon and had your initial examination you will have more questions about the specific type of treatment to choose from.

    If your initial questions didn’t bring answers specific to your care, such as, “Why this procedure instead of that one?” the time to ask is when you are given your exam results and recommendations.

    There are many reasons why a surgeon will recommend one procedure over another when the results won’t make any difference. A less ethical surgeon may simply recommend the more expensive one. A more ethical surgeon may just prefer one procedure or technology to another, for example, traditional LASIK vs. Wavefront LASIK. In planning how to choose a LASIK surgeon, frame your questions in a way that helps you identify those with the most objective reasons for making their recommendations.

    Financing Your LASIK Treatment

    If finances are a problem, let him know. He may anticipate equally good results from another procedure that will cost you less. The answers to questions such as these may offer you a last-minute assurance that you chose the right surgeon.

    On the other hand, his answers may confirm a warning hunch you didn’t take seriously, and give you a chance to rethink some of your decisions.

    This is also the time to ask specific questions about the cost of LASIK surgery, follow-up exams, enhancements (corrective treatments should your surgery fall short of expectations), additional expenses such as fees or higher costs for using more expensive equipment, and LASIK financing options. Get a copy of any contracts you’ll be expected to sign and read them carefully when you can give them full attention. Don’t rush into a decision.

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