In this article, Dr. Bowers discusses what patients need to have on their LASIK checklist before undergoing the procedure.
When a patient begins to look into LASIK, they are often overwhelmed by the amount of information available from numerous resources and not knowing what, or who, to trust. With such an important procedure as LASIK, patients should develop their “must-have” list as they begin to investigate their options. This is what I would consider as my must-have list if I were undergoing LASIK myself. It’s a personal opinion of course, but after twenty years of providing this amazing procedure to friends, family, colleagues and anyone else coming in for the procedure, it is my list of what should not be compromised on. So hopefully this helps that individual out there who is doing their homework prior to going in for their first LASIK evaluation, regardless of where they go for their procedure.
1. Choose the Right Type of LASIK Evaluation for You
Know the difference between a LASIK “screening” exam and a comprehensive LASIK evaluation. The first is usually a very limited visit with limited testing to see if you “generally” fall into the range that “could” be corrected. These are often complementary, brief examinations. A comprehensive LASIK evaluation, on the other hand, is what you really need to have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. It usually involves a 1-2 hour visit with lots of testing and a dilated eye exam. I would personally insist on a comprehensive LASIK evaluation.
2. Stop Wearing Contacts Before Your Procedure
Prior to your visit, you really should discontinue contact lens wear for a minimum of two weeks. Why? Even soft contacts can induce subtle cornea changes that can affect the very sensitive measurements used to program your laser correction. Additionally, contact lens wear is associated with a greater chance of infection. Giving your eyes this break helps to reduce this risk further. Be wary of having measurements, or your LASIK procedure, when your eyes have not had this important break from contacts.
3. Find a Surgeon Your Comfortable With and Confident In
Make sure your comprehensive LASIK evaluation includes a detailed discussion with the surgeon who will be performing the procedure. Questions and opinions discussed with anyone else may or may not be consistent with the surgeon. If my surgeon was not there at this visit, it would raise a flag for me personally. Likewise, make sure your surgeon follows up with you after your procedure unless other arrangements are made for someone else to provide that at your request (perhaps due to distance traveling, etc.). I would personally avoid a surgeon who routinely hands patients off to someone else immediately after surgery. At a minimum, I would expect my surgeon to follow up with me for at least a couple of weeks.
4. Learn What Reduces Your Risk of Infection
Infection is a LASIK surgeon’s number one concern. Besides the advice related to discontinuing contacts given above, there are other ways you can reduce your risk. Simply doing eyelid cleansing, using baby shampoo on a warm washcloth and rinsing, once daily for at least one week prior to your procedure can reduce this risk further. Bacteria love the lids and lash area and this is often the source of any infection. Avoid LASIK if you’ve had a recent eye or eyelid infection, had a recent upper respiratory illness, or in close proximity to someone with conjunctivitis.
5. Know The Operating Equipment
Confirm with your surgeon that they are keeping current with the very latest software and hardware upgrades, even if some of these costs extra for the surgeon to have. You want the very latest technology available so don’t assume you are getting it unless you ask.
6. Know Your Options
Avoid situations that make you feel pressured or obligated to follow through with the procedure. You should be well informed and have plenty of time to consider your options, even if that option is not to proceed. Similarly, your surgeon should welcome a second opinion especially if there are any reservations or concerns noted on the examination. And if the surgeon themselves suggests a second opinion, thank them for taking a conservative approach. You owe it to yourself to be confident with the information you have.
Lastly, don’t base your final decision on the best price you can find. Cost is an important factor to consider but it should never drive your decision on where you go to have your surgery. Your mom was correct when she told you time and time again, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Listen to your mom on this. These are your eyes and it’s how I would treat them if they were mine.