So far, I have called three offices to inquire about setting up a consultation.
Stephen G. Phillips - Sound Eye and Laser (Seattle)
Everyone who I've spoken with at Sound Eye has been friendly and helpful. The first time I called, I just inquired about consultation cost, which is free. The second time I called, the woman who I needed to speak with to answer my questions was assisting in surgery so they took my name and number. She called me first thing the next business day and answered my questions about the procedure, cost, and recovery time. I asked her specifically about what type of procedure they perform (from my limited research, there are a couple of different types of LASIK, as well as PRK). Her answer was a little confusing, and I didn't end up with a clear idea of the procedure, although I believe it is "bladeless." Fortunately, the Sound Eye website provides more details about their procedure. They are running a special right now- the full cost of LASIK is $2995. They also work with my eye insurance provider, VSP, which will reduce the cost by another 5%. Before the consultation, you can't wear contacts for 8 days. (Contacts change the shape of your eyes, and Sound Eye takes measurements of the eye during the consultation.) They are located very close to home (walking distance!), so this looks like a good option so far. However, I have read a few negative reviews of the doctor online. (As well as some really great ones!)
Brian McKillop - Eye Associates NW (Seattle)
I have not had good luck with this office. They have an automated telephone system, which was of course annoying. The first time I called, the staff was a little rude, and then transferred me to billing to answer questions about consultation cost, but the billing department was closed. I called again the next week, was transferred to another department, and then to another department and was instructed to leave a message. I still have not heard from them (it's been a couple of business days.) They are also located close to home (on the same street as Sound Eye and Laser), so I was hoping to have a couple of good options nearby. Unless they return my call and are as friendly as the other offices' staff, I will not be going there.
Jennifer J. Lee, MD - Washington Pacific Eye Associates (Bellevue)
Like other doctors, I had read good and bad reviews about Dr. Lee online. Although the office is not nearly as close to home, I want to keep my options open. The staff was very friendly, and took my name and number to have a medical assistant call me to answer more detailed questions. The medical assistant, Philip, called me back quickly, and was friendly and helpful. Consultations are $150, but will be deducted from the surgery cost if you go through with it. The consultation could potentially be covered by insurance if it is counted as an annual exam. Both PRK and LASIK are offered. Both procedures are $3900 total. Phillip explained the difference between PRK and LASIK. He was easy to follow and understand. Unlike Sound Eye and Laser, you do not need to avoid wearing contacts for several days before the consultation (that's a big plus.) Before the surgery, depending on the condition of your eyes, you cannot wear contacts for one or two weeks.
Phillip offered some advice, which he says he tells his friends also looking into vision correction: he recommended that regardless of where you go for the procedure, that you look for a opthalmologist who specializes in more than one type of surgery (i.e. more than just LASIK), and to avoid LASIK clinics. LASIK clinics perform just LASIK because it is profitable. He says he has seen some patients from LASIK clinics who he thinks should not have had LASIK (corneas too thin, eyes too dry, etc.) I thought that was excellent advice.
To summarize, Sound Eye and Laser looks the most promising so far. The staff was friendly and helpful, consultations are free, the price is competitive, it is located close to home, and the doctor seems trustworthy. The only con is that I can't wear contacts for several days before the consultation.