What Makes a Good LASIK/PRK Consultation
Article by David Drucker, MD
So you’ve decided to pursue laser vision correction and have made a few appointments for consultations. From your consultation you must make the choice of which surgeon to choose, providing that you are a candidate. So, what does a good consultation look like?
FIRST, WHAT HAPPENS AT A LASER VISION CONSULTATION?
A screening examination is performed to determine your qualification for the procedure. This usually consists of a determination of your refractive error (lens prescription), inspection of your pupils and front surface of the eye, an elevation mapping of your eye (corneal topography), and measurement of the thickness of your cornea. In some practices, a complete eye examination with pressure testing and dilation of the pupils is also done. The ophthalmologist reviews this information in light of your visual needs and provides you with options and recommendations for refractive surgery.
A GOOD CONSULTATION IS NOT RUSHED
When you are at your consult, you should never feel rushed. A good consultation should move along at a comfortable speed, and you should feel that you have ample time to ask any questions you may have. You should be treated as though you are an individual with unique eyes. Your laser vision coordinator and your doctor should both treat you as such, asking you questions about your lifestyle and your expected outcomes.
A GOOD CONSULTATION LETS YOU MEET THE SURGEON
Many laser vision centers will perform a thorough screening and determine your candidacy for LASIK or PRK without ever having consulted the surgeon. As the surgeon is ultimately the only one who can tell you whether or not you are a candidate and discuss what sort of outcome you can expect, you should always be able to meet with him or her at your consultation. Also, whether or not you like the doctor should be a major factor in choosing your surgeon. How can you determine this if you haven’t even met him or her?
A GOOD CONSULTATION IS FREE OF CHARGE
If you have to pay for a consultation you may feel obliged to have surgery with an office that you are not entirely comfortable with. In fact, the laser centers that charge are counting on this. You should be able to screen the doctor and his or her office without feeling any obligation.
A GOOD CONSULTATION WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH COSTS UPFRONT
That sounds like a given, but as many laser centers have hidden fees, they are not able to give you a total cost until after your entire screening has been performed. You should be able to walk into an office and receive a cost before you ever step foot into an exam room. And that cost should be the same when you sit down to schedule.
A GOOD CONSULTATION DOESN’T MAKE PROMISES
No one can promise you what your vision will be after surgery. A good surgeon with lots of experience can give an expert opinion, and can usually be pretty accurate, but they can’t promise you how you will see when all is said and done. Many places will offer you a money back guarantee. You are generally required to pay extra for that guarantee, and what the surgery center is saying is that if you do not see as well as they hope you will, they will refund your money. It’s a gamble for them but the odds are in their favor. They still cannot promise they know how you will see.
Of course, there are many other things that are part of a good consultation, many of which are not quantifiable. How the staff and surgeon make you feel, how at ease you are with the office - these feelings are essential, and there are many different acceptable ways that an office may envoke these feelings. If you do not feel comfortable with the first consultation you receive, keep shopping until you do.