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Do you know the three most important questions to ask a LASIK surgeon?

By Joel Hunter, MD

You can only find out so much online about your potential LASIK surgeon. In fact, you should stop your online fact-finding until you’ve read this article. Why? There are too many compelling answers to questions that don’t matter. For example, “Dr. Lasikton has performed over 100,000 procedures.” That’s compelling! …or it’s possible that you’ve just read a one-sentence summary of a career with 10 lawsuits, a 10 million dollar marketing budget, while only 10% of their patients see 20/20 or better after surgery.

It’s not that a high volume of procedures is a bad thing. It’s just that it isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s a stat designed to persuade rather than inform. And it is one example out of a dozen others we could have chosen to illustrate this point. Until you know the right questions, you can’t hope to get the right answers. The right answers are the ones that will lead you to your best (or away from your worst) possible choice for LASIK.

There are three questions that may tell you everything you need to know.

1. What percentage of your patients see 20/20 or better?

This is a stat that a great LASIK surgeon shouldn’t just be ready to share; they should be longing to share it. They should be carrying this information like a source of pride they’re just dying to share. Like if they could run a five-minute mile, but it would be bragging to just walk up to people and start with that news. So when someone happens to ask, “What’s your fastest time running a mile?” a smile involuntarily creeps across their face and they can say, “Ha, well…” That’s the look you want when you ask your LASIK surgeon what percentage of their patients see 20/20 or better. It should be very close to 100%. And when it is, you’ll see their flash of excitement that someone finally asked!

2. What makes me a good candidate for LASIK?

This question is valuable in two ways. First, there is an answer to it beyond, “you meet the criteria.” There is a personal, specific answer to why LASIK should (or shouldn't) be amazing for you. There are a lot of examples, but to choose one at random to illustrate the idea: maybe you have oblique astigmatism that is difficult to fully correct with contacts and leaves you in glasses that have a small “sweet spot” of vision when staring directly ahead, but are blurry when looking even slightly off to the side, or up, or down. See how specific that is? Everyone who is a candidate for LASIK (which hopefully includes you) deserves to know their specific reason for being a candidate.

The second way this question helps feels sneakier, but that doesn’t make it less helpful. This question gives a small window into your doctor’s values. It’s important to see if this question remains unanswered, or gets answered with annoyance rather than excitement. If your surgeon doesn’t seem like they’re on your team at this stage of just fun potential and possibility, that’s not likely to change during treatment and follow-up visits. That leads nicely into our last all-important question.

3. If I have a problem post-operatively, how do I get in touch with you?

The wording on this one matters. That’s because this component of LASIK is the easiest one for a surgeon to take a shortcut. Yes, it is required that you have someone you can call after-hours if there is a problem. But it is way less expensive and so much easier (for your surgeon) if that person isn’t a LASIK surgeon. I’m sure you’ve already solved the puzzle — you want to be able to call a LASIK surgeon if you have a LASIK problem. Why is this the easiest to shortcut? No one asks. And no one asks for the same reason that people don’t think a bunch about flood insurance. It doesn’t matter until it matters. Will you have a problem after LASIK? Almost certainly not. But if you do (like the nice young lady I recently operated on who jabbed herself in the eye with a price tag on a blouse the day after LASIK) then you’ll want to talk to and be seen by a surgeon (she’s doing great, by the way!).

These three questions may not be the only ones that matter. You may have additional questions specific to your situation, and those should be answered too. Yet, for almost everyone looking to get LASIK, I’d wager those three questions will get you more valuable information than all the others combined.

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These articles are brought to you by Hunter Vision. We help people in Orlando discover life after glasses and contacts.
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