Laser Eye Surgeon Qualifications

How does a person find the most qualified to do laser eye surgery?  What should be considered when researching for the best doctor?

Doctor Answers 9

Laser Eye Surgeon Qualifications

I have always thought the best endorsement of a LASIK or cataract surgeon is the word of mouth of a happy patient they have operated on. While medical school rankings and Ophthalmology residency rankings are always important, I have known my fair share of "average" surgeons coming from Ivy League level programs. Conversely, the best cataract surgeon I have ever known came from a program I had never heard of! So, in the end, it comes down to patient referral, word of mouth and your own confidence when you meet the surgeon.

There are some basic parameters, however. I would ask the surgeon how many LASIK procedures he/she performs monthly, how many cataract surgeries he/she performs monthly, where the surgery is done(do they own their own facility), as well as how many procedures similar to your own they have performed. If you are a decent judge of character, you will know the truth when you see it. I have always said, if you do not have complete confidence in your cataract or LASIK surgeon before the procedure occurs, it is time to call a time out and get another opinion.

Baltimore Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

What makes a qualified surgeon

Ask around in your community! Happy patients will refer you to their surgeon and be able to give you great insight into what the support team is like, how long wait times were, pricing, etc. There are also many online review sites like yelp and healthgrades where patients can rate their surgeons. I also recommend that you find a Fellowship trained surgeons. The most qualified refractive surgeons usually did a Fellowship in Cornea and Refractive Surgery. Hope that helps!

Paul C. Kang, MD
Washington DC Ophthalmologist

Word-of-mouth testimonials

One of the best endorsements for a surgeon is word-of-mouth personal testimonials from people you trust and respect. If a friend or family member had a great experience with a certain surgeon then your search should start there. Other things to look for are quality and quantity of training, I recommend using a surgeon who completed a reputable one year or longer post-residency fellowship program in Cornea & Refractive Surgery. Surgeons who are invited by their peers to lecture and/or teach courses on laser vision correction surgery are typically good choices as well. More important than all these things however is how you personally feel after meeting a surgeon for the first time and discussing your candidacy for the surgery. If you have a bad feeling despite stellar qualifications and recommendations then move on to someone else. If you go to an office for a 'free consultation' be sure to actually meet and talk with the surgeon who will perform the surgery as I believe it is important to have a solid, confident, trusting relationship with your surgeon before you actually have the surgery.

Christopher Starr, MD
New York Ophthalmologist

Qualifications for laser surgeon and center

i would ask the following questions:

  1. where did the surgeon go for medical school? (the better the better)
  2. where did he do his residency in ophthalmology? (again, famous centers are usually best!)
  3. did he do a Refractive Fellowship? (the best refractive surgeons did a refractive fellowship)
  4. how many procedures does he perform a year? (something between 1,000 - 2,000 is ideal)
  5. how many of my particular type of procedure does he perform per year? (e.g., LASEK not LASIK)
  6. does he perform LASEK or epiLASEK or PRK in high Rxs or thin corneas? (PRK is outdated)
  7. has he had refractive surgery himself? (weird if he's using glasses/contacts himself)
  8. how many lost +settled lawsuits has he had in his career? (the best will be willing to write down 0)
  9. what brand of laser is he using (VISX SR+IR has lasered more eyes than all other brands--combined)
  10. does he own his own laser or is he renting one to use? (top MDs own their own laser)
  11. who will be doing my preop and postop testing (MDs go to medical school; ODs don't)

these are good qualifying questions. i would avoid asking questions like "what's your enhancement rate?" as it really depends on what your Rx is going in, in other words if your Rx is -1.00, you'd have almost no chance of needing an enhancement at my center, but if you were a -10.00 going in, you'd have a 10% chance of needing an enhancement afterwards--so global enhancement rates are a meaningless statistic 

Emil Chynn, MD

Emil William Chynn, MD, FACS, MBA
New York Ophthalmologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Laser Eye Surgeon Qualifications

The safest way to ensure that your surgeon is highly qualified to perform laser vision correction is to determine that he is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology AND that he is fellowship trained in Cornea and Refractive Surgery. Additionally, find out if and that he has performed at least 1,000 LASIK cases.


Laser Eye Surgery, as with anything comes with experience so find out how many years and how many procedures have been done during that time. Additionally, getting a recommendation from another patient or doctor will help reinforce the skill of the surgeon. Do your research and read reviews.

Michael K. Tracy, MD
San Diego Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Laser eye surgeon qualifications

Look for are a surgeon who has fellowship training in cornea and refractive surgery and ask how many procedures they perform per year. I would also ensure that the surgeon if comfortable and willing to do all forms of refractive surgery (LASIK/LASEK/PRK/ICL/CLE). This will ensure that they will not try and push a treatment they are comfortable with on you even if it is not suited to you. You can also ask other doctors for recommendation. 

Ilan Cohen, MD
New York Ophthalmologist

Laser Surgeon Qualifications

Finding the best surgeon can be extremely difficult.  While word-of-mouth is important, getting a recommendation from 3 or 4 friends is hardly a sufficient sample size to differentiate a good surgeon from a great surgeon.  An average LASIK surgeon is still very successful and since LASIK surgery tends to be a very successful surgery, it would be improbable that you could ask enough people to make a decision based purely on statistics.

Optometrists can often be good referral sources but often they refer to the same surgeon and can therefore miss a surgeon who might be an even better option for you.

Medical schools, residencies, and fellowships are a good source of information as well but the best surgeons don't always come from the most prestigious universities so this can be misleading at times if overemphasized.  A surgeon who brags about his credentials might have more ego than talent. 

A full LASIK screening is certainly recommended.  Patients can get a feel for the surgeon and the surgery center.  Patients should feel comfortable with the communication between the patient and the doctor.  Patient should also notice the level of detail that is emphasized at the LASIK center.  LASIK is much more successful when performed by a surgeon who is meticulous with a fine eye for details. 

Cost should be lower in the list of importance.  Expensive surgeons are not necessarily the best surgeons although the newest technology does come with a higher price.  Patients should consider a red flag if one surgeon is much cheaper than other surgeons in the area.  This could be a signal that the one surgeon is cutting corners and providing sub-par treatment.

Jay Bansal, MD
San Francisco Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Experience makes a huge difference

It is less important where a doctor went to school and much more important as to what they have done since leaving school.  The best surgeons tend to be those that have been in practice for at least 15 years and who do a lot of surgery.  Even so, it is possible to have a busy surgeon who does not do good work.  The next question is how many successful malpractice suits that they have.  If it is more than a few, or if they have more than one or two pending, I would look elsewhere.  The other important issue is whether you actually have time to spend time with your surgeon and to ask them questions.  If you don't have a chance to meet your surgeon before surgery, I would look elsewhere.

Mark Golden, MD
Chicago Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

I think experience is the most important qualification

I think experience is the most important qualification.  Membership in ASCRS (American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery) and AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) also can be verified.  Both have information on selecting a surgeon.

Christopher Coad, MD
New York Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.