Have you noticed some LASIK advertisements for “$499 per eye!” or some such amount? If you’re interested in having LASIK eye surgery, you may be wondering where to have it done.
Caveat emptor – buyer beware!
There are facilities that offer LASIK at lower prices, and the offer may look attractive at first glance. But how do those facilities manage to perform a highly sophisticated medical procedure that requires very expensive equipment and highly trained staff and surgeons at a cut-rate price?
Accepting modest profits?
That might be true in an idyllic world. No, many facilities are in business to make a good profit by processing lots of patients as quickly as possible. They try to attract patients by offering low prices. The low prices attract only a certain kind of patient: one who’s looking for a bargain rather than for quality surgery.
Consider how important your eyesight is. How would you feel if it were damaged by someone’s neglect, carelessness, or lack of expertise? How much is it worth to you to protect your eyesight and entrust it only to careful, attentive doctors who use only the best equipment?
Compensating for the low fees
A facility that charges low fees has to make up for that loss of revenue, and they do it by lowering their costs:
Buying or leasing an old, cheaper laser that is less accurate
Purchasing cheap equipment
Sterilizing equipment less often
Re-using things such as latex gloves
Giving you less surgeon time
Paying lower wages, which means hiring less skilled staff
Laying unexpected extra charges on you for such things as follow-up appointments or anesthesia (hidden costs)
Performing only a brief and perfunctory initial examination of your eyes to determine if you’re a good candidate for LASIK
A good outcome is surely what you want?
If you go ahead with LASIK surgery without first being established as a good candidate for it, you’re inviting a disappointing outcome and even some extra personal risk.
Scenarios to avoid?
A good candidate must have the right corneal thickness. So picture the surgeon, hurrying through your procedure so as to get to the next patient and meet his or her quota for the day. He could make a mistake cutting the small flap on your cornea, not knowing that your corneas are too thin for a LASIK surgery. If it’s cut too thick for your eyes, the tissue underneath could be damaged.
You’ve had your cheap LASIK procedure. You’re getting ready to leave and because the facility is under-staffed, nobody gives you the antibiotic eyedrops you should use for a few days. You wake up the next morning with one eye sore and swollen. Follow-up appointments cost extra. But you pay the fee and see a surgeon’s assistant who informs you that your eye is infected and after waiting to see the doctor, you learn that further surgery will have to be scheduled to correct the small flap’s position.
You’ve had your bargain LASIK surgery and the next morning you wake to find your eyes very dry and scratchy. You’ve always had a tendency towards dry eyes, and in your brief pre-op exam, nobody told you that LASIK can make a person’s eyes extra dry. You call and ask about it and are told, “Sorry, that’s a risk of LASIK and if you had dry eyes you should have told us.”
A quality LASIK surgeon
A quality LASIK surgeon will:
Thoroughly examine your eyes to determine if you’re a good candidate for the procedure
Answer all your questions thoroughly
Offer a variety of payment plans
Spring no hidden costs on you
Perform your surgery himself
Follow-up with you himself, the next day, and at intervals for a full year
Use only the best equipment and materials and keep them scrupulously clean
Hire only skilled staff
With only one pair of eyes, don’t you want to take good care of them? Interview several LASIK surgeons until you find one that you feel you can trust with this crucial aspect of your life.