Once you’ve compiled your list of names of laser eye surgeons, you then need to compile a separate list of questions to ask them. These questions are vital! They will give you an inside look at the surgeon, their practices, and their office policies.
These questions will also give you a better idea of what surgeons are better qualified and better skilled to perform your laser eye surgery. Here is a list of questions that will get you started when you start talking to different laser eye surgeons.
How many surgeries have you done?
It can’t be stressed enough – experience is everything when it comes to laser eye surgery. Make sure any surgeon can tell you how many surgeries they’ve done, and what type of surgery they’ve performed the most. They should have performed at least 250 in the past twelve months. And when it comes to the type of laser eye surgery you’re getting done specifically, they should have performed at least 100 within the last twelve months.
How many people, on average, in a year do you decline for laser eye surgery?
There is no real percentage or even correct answer in this case. But you should walk away from any surgeon that says they don’t turn anyone away. This indicates that they’re mostly interested in making money from performing surgeries, and that they’re not actually looking out for the patient’s best interests.
Will you use wavefront technology to diagnose what corrective surgery I need?
This answer should be an absolute yes but remember that this refers to the technology that is used to diagnose your vision problems, and not correct them. Therefore you shouldn’t expect the surgeon to use wavefront technology when they’re performing the surgery, only when they’re trying to diagnose your problem. Custom laser eye surgery is the only type of surgery that will use the actual wavefront technology to reshape your cornea. It’s also important to remember that not all surgeons have this technology available in their offices, even just to diagnose the problem. However, they should be willing to send you to another location, at your expense, to get the diagnosing done.
Will you do a contrast sensitivity test before and after the procedure?
Most surgeons don’t perform this test because it’s not required and not standard procedure. However, a good surgeon will perform this test, even if they don’t have the equipment to do so right in their office. Again, it’s expensive and not many surgeons have it readily available. They should be able to set up an appointment for you though, at your expense, at another location.
Will you measure the thickness of my cornea before a decision about surgery is made?
This is a very important question because the thickness of your cornea could ultimately determine what kind of laser eye surgery you get done. Make sure that any surgeon you’re considering can answer ‘yes’ to this question.
How many of your patients have 20/40 vision after the procedure?
This should be about 90%. If your doctor claims that their percentage is higher, ask to see something that proves that.
How many of your patients have 20/20 vision after the procedure?
In this case, about 65% is considered the average. Again, if the surgeon claims that it’s higher, ask again to see proof.
What is your complication rate? Is it much higher or lower than the national average?
Instead of just asking the general question of how many of their surgeries are successes, specifically ask what their complication rate is – any good eye surgeon should be able to tell you this. Also, they should be able to tell you what the national average is, and how their complication rate compares. As of 2011, the complication rate for laser eye surgery was 3%
Do you perform the surgery right in your office, or at another location?
Many eye surgeons perform laser eye surgery right in their office. But it’s not a bad sign if a surgeon wants to meet you at a hospital or health clinic to have the surgery done. Many surgeons also have hospital rights at many nearby institutions and use their facilities. However, it is good to know in case the surgeon only performs procedures at a place that is too far away, or where you don’t want to get your procedure done.
Has your office (or other clinic) ever had an outbreak of eye infections?
A surgeon who has seen an outbreak of eye infections in their practice could be using equipment that’s not entirely clean. Therefore, the infection remains on the equipment, is then used on another patient, and the infection is passed on. Whatever caused the outbreak, it’s a very good indication that the office may be unhygienic. And while there may be a good reason for it and you may not want to base your decision on this alone, it may be a good warning signal and cause you to pay closer attention to other details.
What will my vision be like in the weeks following surgery?
Any good eye surgeon should be able to give you a complete breakdown on what you can expect your vision to be like following surgery. They should explain any discomfort you might have, what your vision will be like immediately after the surgery, and when you can expect to see the full effects of the surgery.
How long is the recovery period?
It’s true that laser eye surgery is a minor, common procedure that doesn’t take a very long time to recover from. However, any surgeon who tells you that you’ll be ‘up and at ‘em’ an hour after your surgery should be avoided. There is still a slight recovery time and you should make sure you rest for a day or two after having the surgery.
What happens if a complication arises after my surgery?
Although no one wants to think about it, there is that three percent complication rate – and you might be one of them! You need to know you will be properly taken care of if there are complications after your surgery and that you won’t be charged for a surgeon’s mistakes.
When enhancements are needed, is there an extra charge?
Some eye surgeons will charge for enhancements that are needed due to complications after surgery, and some won’t. Either way, you need to know if there are fees and if so, what they are.
What is your cut-off date for enhancement done after surgery?
When surgeons don’t charge an additional fee for enhancements, they will typically have a cut-off date. This date may be one month, one year, or another specified time after your surgery. Any enhancements made before this date will be free; enhancements made after will not be.
Will you complete a full examination of my eyes both before and after surgery?
You want to make sure that you’re not only getting a surgeon who will take great care with your eyes before the procedure, but afterwards too.
How often will you examine my eyes after surgery?
The next day is an absolute must! After that the surgeon may want to check back with you at the one week and one month mark. And if you need more treatment or further monitoring after that time, a good surgeon will also make sure that you get it.
Can I get the names of four past patients of yours who have had the same exact surgery I’m having? Can I contact them?
You need references! Of course you may have already gotten your own at this point but it’s important that a laser eye surgeon has a list of names at the ready that they can give you to prove that they’ve performed this surgery many times in the past and most importantly, that their patients were happy with the results.