How Do You Find the Best Refractive Surgeon?
You’ve been living with impaired vision all your life. You wear glasses or contacts, but they’re a hassle and are uncomfortable, and you don’t like how they look. You’re ready to be rid of them. Now you’ve learned about a surgical procedure that can help you achieve better vision without glasses or contacts, and you believe it’s right for you. Your next step is to choose the refractive surgeon who will perform your procedure. Of course, you want the very best surgeon around. But with thousands of surgeons in practice, how can you possibly know who to choose?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Here at Doctor Review, helping you choose the right provider for your elective health procedure is one of our specialties. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re choosing the best eye surgeon for your procedure.
Things to Look For in a Refractive Surgeon
While your surgeon should have the letters “MD” after his or her name (of course! That means they’re a real doctor!), there may be another set of letters after that. The letters “FACS” stand for “Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.” Membership in this society requires rigorous training in surgery and passing difficult board examinations. If you choose an eye surgeon who’s a member of this society, then you know that surgeon has high-quality training.
Additionally, the American Board of Ophthalmology certifies doctors who have completed an additional program to specialize in eye care, after medical school and at least a year of general surgical training. These doctors are called ophthalmologists, and they’re trained in both surgical and medical care of the eye. If you want to check whether a doctor you’re considering is certified, you can look him or her up on the organization’s website.
Recent Training and Experience
You also want information on how often this surgeon has done the particular procedure you’re considering, or whether they’ve recently had continuing education to learn new techniques in that particular area. While all ophthalmologists are qualified to perform all surgical procedures on the eye, surgeons (like everyone else) tend to have particular areas of interest. Some may perform certain procedures more or less often, and may choose their continuing education courses to be in their area of greatest interest.
If you’re calling the front desk as a potential new patient, you may be able to ask about this information. Sometimes, it’s available on the surgeon’s website. You may need to have a consultation and ask directly; many surgical offices offer complimentary consultations. This information is valuable in terms of determining whether the surgeon can perform the procedure you’re seeking at a high quality.
You should also learn about the equipment the surgeon uses. You want a surgeon who’s using the most up-to-date equipment, to get the best possible results. For instance, bladeless (all-laser) LASIK can only be performed using newer machines. You can ask about the equipment directly, or you can ask whether some of those newer techniques would be available to you in that surgeon’s operating facilities.
While you do want someone who’s experienced, it’s at least as important to find a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable, who listens to you, tries to understand your goals, and answers your questions. If your surgeon doesn’t take the time to connect with you in this way, then you could end up making choices that you later regret, because they really weren’t right for you.
You also want a surgeon who helps you feel calm, rather than heightening your anxiety. This makes vision correction surgery far more pleasant, helps you make the best choices for yourself, and may even speed your healing.
What About the Money?
It’s important not to let cost be the only factor in your decision. Simply choosing the cheapest refractive surgeon you can find is likely to lead to unsatisfying outcomes, and possibly to much larger expenditures down the road to fix the problems that were caused. However, since medical insurance rarely covers vision correction procedures, as they’re considered elective and cosmetic, the balance in your bank account might force you to consider cost as part of your decision. You can sometimes simply ask the front desk staff to give you estimated prices on a variety of procedures, or you can have a consultation to get a more accurate estimate. Just keep in mind that if you don’t have the money you need to pay the provider you want, financing your procedure is an option.
You may see a lot of slick advertising trying to convince you to use certain centers and get a “great deal.” Be vigilant about ensuring that you’ll get a great quality procedure. It’s not worth saving some money now, only to have problems with your vision later, and have to pay a lot more to correct them or, worse, have them be impossible to correct.
Ask For a Little Help From Your Friends
Referrals from friends and family, especially if they’ve had the particular procedure you’re considering, can be especially valuable. You might not know who’s had refractive surgery recently, because if it’s done well, then it’s almost impossible to notice! You might feel comfortable putting it out there: “I’m looking for a great refractive surgeon in my area, do you know of anyone?” You might find the perfect fit this way. However, many people would like to be more discreet, rather than announcing their choice to seek refractive surgery to the world. Instead, or in addition, you can search on Doctor Review to read reviews of eye surgeons in your area. This is a great way to broaden your search and make sure you’re considering all the options, and to get advice from people who’ve had exactly the procedure you’re seeking, all while maintaining your privacy.
So Who’s the Best Refractive Surgeon?
The best refractive surgeon is the one who offers all of the factors above — training and experience in the procedure you’re considering, a caring and compassionate manner, and great results. If you want to feel good about your refractive surgical procedure, it starts with feeling good about your surgeon!