Shopping for LASIK? Here are 8 questions to ask when looking for a LASIK provider.
You’ve been considering the possibilities and you’re finally ready to start shopping for LASIK! The proper research will help ensure you get the best quality eye surgeon and technology, so you can have peace of mind as you proceed with refractive eye surgery. To help you on your journey to clear vision, our team at The Eye Institute of Utah has outlined some important considerations and questions you should ask as you shop for LASIK. Even if you chose to go to another practice, we want to make sure you make an informed decision before committing to laser eye surgery. Here are 8 questions to ask when looking for a LASIK provider:
1. Does the Provider Offer a Wide Range of Treatment Options?
LASIK is the most recognized and common type of vision correction surgery in the U.S., but many people do not qualify for LASIK. People with thin corneas, high levels of nearsightedness, or patients with presbyopia (age-related need for reading glasses) may be better off with a different type of refractive eye surgery. A LASIK shop that doesn’t offer other procedures may not guide you to the best option for you.
It’s important when you shop for LASIK to consider a practice and surgeon that is well versed in a variety of advanced forms of vision correction solutions – not solely LASIK. Some of the alternative options to LASIK include PRK, Visian ICL, refractive lens exchange (RLE), and KAMRA and Raindrop corneal inlays.
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2. How Experienced is the Surgeon?
LASIK is a common procedure, but you don’t overlook the importance of an experienced surgeon. Ask potential surgeons how many procedures they have performed and what their enhancement rate is (enhancement is a follow-up procedure performed when the initial results were unsatisfactory). An experienced and talented surgeon should have performed at least a few hundred vision correction procedures, and ideally have an enhancement rate under 4%. You may also consider a surgeon who is a fellowship-trained corneal specialist, who may be able to identify potential risk factors when considering candidacy that a non-specialized ophthalmologist might not consider.
3. Can You Meet the Surgeon?
When you have a LASIK consultation, you should also be given the opportunity to meet the surgeon that would perform the procedure. Choose a LASIK surgeon who makes you feel comfortable and will be available for questions before and after the procedure. Beware of eye centers that don’t let you meet the doctor until the day of surgery, or doctors that are very impatient or unfriendly. Your eyes are very important, so make sure your LASIK surgeon sees you as an individual and not a dollar sign!
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4. Manual vs All-Laser: How is the Procedure Performed?
Although both manual and all-laser LASIK are considered safe and effective at correcting vision, there are numerous studies that have shown that there is added precision, safety, and reduced negative side effects when a femtosecond laser is used to create the corneal flap compared to a flap created manually using a microkeratome. A study in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery determined that there is a higher incidence of LASIK-induced dry eye when a microkeratome blade is used to create the flap when compared to all-laser LASIK.1
Although any surgery carries some risk, LASIK is widely considered to be safe. Occasionally, some patients may experience higher order aberrations, which are distortions on the eye that can cause issues with night vision, glare, and halos. The Food and Drug Administration reports that higher order aberrations are more common with manual LASIK using a mircokeratome than with bladeless LASIK.2
Conclusion: although both forms of LASIK can give you excellent vision, you may experience better quality vision with less risk of side effects if you proceed with all-laser LASIK instead of LASIK where a flap is created manually.
5. Does the Practice Actually Use New Technology?
Many practices promise they have the latest technology “upgrades”, but they may only have software upgrades, not new lasers. Ask what year they purchased the laser that would be used in your procedure. It’s important to do your own independent research of both the femtosecond and excimer lasers used by the various LASIK surgeons you are considering so you can understand the differences.
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6. Is The Price Really That Low?
Do you ever see advertisements promising LASIK for “as low as $250”? The old saying holds true – if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. Many bargain LASIK shops advertise extremely low prices, but most people don’t actually qualify for the advertised pricing. Although astigmatism is very common, bargain LASIK centers often charge extra to correct astigmatism. And even though they promote that they offer “all-laser or Custom LASIK”, the lowest advertised prices are often for manual LASIK, and the price typically increases if you request newer technology.
7. What’s Included In the Cost of Your Procedure?
Once you have received a quote for LASIK, it’s important to understand what is included. Some eye centers will leave out the cost for follow-up exam or upcharge you if different technology is used. You may have to pay separately for post-operative drops which can cost up to $300 without insurance!
8. Is There a Warranty Included?
If you end up needing a touch-up procedure, some practices will charge you full price to perform the procedure again. Look for a comprehensive package that includes a warranty for touch-up procedures. Taking time to research when you are shopping for LASIK can help make sure you are getting the best value AND quality for your vision correction procedure.
At The Eye Institute of Utah, this is what is included in cost of your LASIK procedure:
- Free Initial Consultation
- All surgery fees, regardless of treatment type (typographically guided, wavefront, etc)
- First year of follow-up visits (You can choose to do your free follow-ups at our office or with your regular optometrist)
- Life in Focus Warranty
- Post-Operative Drops*
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At The Eye Institute of Utah, our team of LASIK surgeons are committed to providing our patients a truly individualized experience. We take the time to get to know each patient on an individual level to better understand their lifestyle and vision needs. Our experts will recommend the best treatment plan and technology for your unique eyes – even if that means you are NOT a candidate for surgery.
If you are interested in scheduling a free consultation, call our office at (801) 266-2283 or complete our contact form.
1. Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery , Volume 35 , Issue 10 , 1756 – 1760. Dry eye associated with laser in situ keratomileusis: Mechanical microkeratome vs. femtosecond laser Salomão, Marcella Q. et al.
*Only included in the cost of LASIK. There will be out of pocket costs for PRK, ICL and RLE procedures.