Joel Hunter, MD Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 08/22/19 6:30 PM
There are two components to making sure it’s a good idea to proceed with LASIK from an eye health perspective. The first is having diagnostics good enough to give us the information that we need. The second is being honest with that information. In this article, we’ll cover the first one first (okay, yeah I see how bad this sentence is, too; I promise things are really going to improve from here) in minimal detail. Then we’ll talk about what it means to be honest. Everyone agrees honesty is good. Not everyone agrees on what constitutes honesty.
Quality Diagnostic Imaging
First things first, the level of technology of diagnostic imaging matters. There are machines that can give us information about the shape of your cornea. They vary massively in quality of information given. Some give 4 data points, some give around 8,000, and some give 25,000. You may have guessed, but more is better. There are still places where LASIK advice is given based on the four-data-point machine. Bizarre. How do you find a place that has the right equipment? Honestly, cost is a factor. No one does cheap LASIK because they decided not to make money. They saved money on their cost of business, and this is one of those areas.
The quality of the diagnostics matters, and along with that, the quantity of diagnostics matters. Multiple rounds of figuring out your prescription in multiple ways, multiple imaging diagnostics, a personal exam with a doctor who can tell you what these things mean. There’s a depth of diagnostics that matters. How do you find a place that does this? It’s a little easier for this category because if there wasn’t enough depth to your exam, you’ll feel like it. If you walk out with questions or concerns, at least that walk can clear up one question. It answers whether you should have LASIK there.
Honesty in the Data
All the diagnostics in the world only matter, however, if there is transparency and honesty in the interpretation of that data. Here’s what I mean by honesty: would the doctor do anything differently if this was their own eyes they were analyzing for surgery? There shouldn’t be a gap in the access to relevant information or details. Your doctor’s job is to take any factors that might be relevant in your decision and make them plain. We don’t have to understand Doppler and high-pressure fronts to hear about the chance of rain. You shouldn’t have to become an eye expert to know if you genuinely are a fantastic, knock-it-out-of-the-park LASIK candidate vs. “this is will probably work,” or anywhere in between.
I don’t think there are nefarious, mustache-twirling LASIK surgeons waiting for gullible patients to fall victim to their schemes. I just know that when you see hundreds of people a week in clinic, it is possible to start just seeing patients instead of people. Eventually, it’s possible to just start seeing eyes instead of patients. It’s possible in medicine — like in any job — to forget the person. It requires a daily, hourly intentional focus on the question, “should we do LASIK in this case?” Because if that’s not there, it gets replaced with, “could we do LASIK in this case?”
Nothing in life is 100%. But you can definitely ensure an eye is healthy enough for LASIK beyond even the faintest speck of reasonable doubt. You just have to find a LASIK surgeon who makes you feel like they care more about every detail of your eyes than you do. I once had a patient fall asleep while I was describing their cornea. Literally, asleep. It was the saddest, proudest moment of my life.
Author: Joel Hunter, MD is an Ophthalmologist, Refractive Surgeon, and the Founder of Hunter Vision, a LASIK Orlando Clinic in Florida. A recognized and respected specialist in vision correction who has performed a countless number of refractive surgeries, Joel gives lectures across the country and trains fellow doctors in the newest LASIK surgery techniques.