When Henry Ford invented or modernized the idea of the assembly line, it was a huge leap forward for the automobile industry because for the first time, people could get a well-built car for a price that was less than “I am the king of a large kingdom.”
We are so used to the idea now of people getting really good at one thing instead of having to be good at everything, that it doesn’t seem that revolutionary. But to give the guy credit, back then they didn’t really even have a name for the car. They settled on “car” which I assume was short for “carriage” which itself would have been short for “horseless carriage.” We could easily be driving a horseless to work if history had taken one slight turn in a different direction.
I hope that clears up what a LASIK technician does. What? Not remotely? Ah yes, I see now that I’ve reread the first paragraph that I seem to have started so early into the analogy that it reads like the ramblings of the insane.
The point I was going for was that all places that try to make an accurate, repeatable, complicated product rely on specialization of responsibilities. That's what a LASIK technician does; they specialize in a very specific set of responsibilities so that it will be right every time.
The technician has three main jobs, and each of them gets triple checked, first by the technician, and then by another technician. Lastly, each piece gets confirmed by me.
First, they do a refraction (“better one, or better two?”). They work with me when they start so they can get an idea of how to do a refraction with a nearly-clinical OCD level of detail. Then they do that hundreds of times a week, and soon it is only rarely that I can improve on it with my final refraction.
Second, they put together all of the relevant eye information for each patient. That means the medical history that matters, as well as the imaging and diagnostics used in crafting a plan.
Lastly, they help run the surgery suite on the day of surgery. I love that part, because it involves running the autoclaves and triple-checking all the numbers for the lasers. And it is a delight to get to work with these people as I never thought I would get to hang out with people as neurotic as I am about those details.
Over time, sterilization techniques and confirmation of surgical plans can get… not lax, but at least more “casual”, I suppose. But in that LASIK suite on surgery day, you’d think we were about to do surgery on George Clooney each and every time with how intense those techs stay all day.
I once saw a tech re-set an entire $500 sterile surgical tray because the edge of the sterile drape it was sitting on touched a wall. I haven’t felt that happy and sad at the same time since my son was three and I found out what an amazing throwing arm he had when he threw my wallet down a hallway and into a toilet (accidentally, I assume).
So if you just skipped to the end and missed all the helpful information on Henry Ford, a LASIK technician does accurate refractions, gathers eye information, and helps run the LASIK suite. They specialize in those three things. Every other part of running the place is done by some other type of person that specializes in those things. But since most of that stuff is business-y, I don’t know anything about it. And anyway, what a snooze fest a blog about that would be!
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.