Laser-in-situ-keratomileusis, or LASIK reshapes the cornea to correct long or short-sightedness using a very precise laser to cut a small flap in the eye’s surface to correct the focus. It is not a complex operation and can be done as an out-patient procedure. Each eye usually takes about an hour and only a local anaesthetic is usually required, so you can go home straight afterwards.
LASIK eye surgery is a very common procedure, with a very high success rate. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) found that between 63% and 79% of people with mild to moderate short-sightedness had normal vision after LASIK treatment.
However, there are several ways that you can increase your chances of a successful treatment, and the most important of these is choosing the right surgeon.
This article on LASIK eye surgery is written by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
How to find a surgeon for LASIK eye surgery
Most major towns and cities boast at least one LASIK eye surgery clinic, with several ‘brand names’ such as Optical Express and Optimax opening branches across the UK. While companies like these will have collectively performed many thousands of treatments, you should not confuse this broad picture with the experience of their individual surgeons. Being part of a big brand does not necessarily mean a surgeon is better than a local independent.
Perhaps the best way to find a surgeon is to ask around friends and family to see if anyone has had the treatment and can recommend a surgeon (or tell you who to avoid). With the increasing popularity of LASIK eye surgery, chances are you will know someone with this experience.
If you cannot get a personal recommendation, try searching the internet for patient forums and feedback. Alternatively, many surgeons will be happy to show you testimonials from former LASIK eye surgery patients, although these should be independently verified wherever possible.
Cost is one factor that you need to be very wary of when choosing LASIK eye surgery. While there may be many advertisements and offers that appear very tempting, the safety of your sight is not something you should compromise just to save a few pounds. The better the surgeon, the higher the price will naturally be, and it is surely better to take out finance to afford the best, than take risks with discount LASIK eye surgery.
When comparing prices, you should always ask what is included, as some LASIK eye surgery clinics will charge for consultations, aftercare and post-operative corrections, while others will include these as standard.
You should be particularly careful with prices quoted as ‘from’. Often the low price quoted in the adverts is for a minor treatment, and you will pay much more. Make sure that the price you are tempted by covers whatever level of LASIK eye surgery you require.
Meeting your surgeon
A good quality surgeon should be willing to spend time, pre-operatively, with prospective LASIK eye surgery patients. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have or voice any concerns, to help you to build trust in the surgeon and develop confidence in the procedure. If the surgeon delegates all pre-op work to junior staff, choose a different clinic.
It is also important that your surgeon personally examines your eyes at some point before your treatment, as often an experienced surgeon can pick up things that junior staff have missed.
Initial consultations for LASIK eye surgery should be free of charge and you should feel comfortable finding out all you need to know. If you sense that your surgeon is not being entirely open about your potential outcome, or feel that you are being ‘sold’ the procedure, then once again, you should move on quickly.
LASIK eye surgery has been around for many years, so any reputable, experienced surgeon should be able to show you statistics reflecting their success rate.
Ask your surgeon how many LASIK eye surgery treatments they have performed, what percentage of patients achieve 20/40 vision and what percentage achieve 20/20. Not only will this give you a comparison between surgeons, but it will also give you a realistic expectation for the outcome of your own LASIK eye surgery. You should also ask what percentage of patients require further treatment, and whether this is included in the original price.
Always make sure that your LASIK eye surgeon has a full backup team and offers 24-hour emergency help following your procedure. If the clinic tells you to visit A&E (accident and emergency) should you have problems, then choose another surgeon. Busy casualty departments are not the place for specialist eye problems.
Finally, as with all surgery, it is important that you feel safe and confident in the team performing the procedure and that you trust your surgeon. Even if a LASIK eye surgery clinic meets all the criteria discussed above, if you do not feel it is the ‘right’ place for you, then you should trust your instincts and try to find an alternative.