8 QUESTIONS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS ASKING WHEN “SHOPPING” FOR iLASIK
- Does the site perform IntraLASIK (bladeless, all-laser) or traditional LASIK(microkeratome blade)?
IntraLASIK is the latest and most advanced technology that uses an all-laser procedure to gently create a flap in the cornea during LASIK. Traditional LASIK, done by use of a microkeratome blade, is an older method, and today is largely being replaced by bladeless IntraLASIK across the country and worldwide. Because of its outdated technology, traditional LASIK via the microkeratome blade is a cheaper option for surgery centers to use, and creates lower overhead costs for the site. IntraLASIK can create a more accurate flap that is thinner and more even. It can create flap edge patterns that the keratome can’t. These flap edge patterns can help lock the flap into position after surgery resulting in a stronger and more stable eye after surgery. IntraLASIK flaps have a lower rate of residual “higher-order aberrations,” which are complex visual errors uncorrectable with glasses or contact lenses. IntraLASIK is the best investment in your eyes proficient with the Intralase – Make sure your doctors are providing only the best options.
- Will my surgery be a “custom/wavefront technology” procedure?
Most patients eligible for a LASIK procedure are also eligible for custom wavefront technology. This is an enhanced IntraLASIK procedure that uses 3D maps of the eye to guide the laser in reshaping the eye during the surgery. Custom wavefront technology allows a more accurate way to map the sources of the eye’s visual errors, and to treat and eliminate those errors surgically. It also helps to eliminated higher-order aberrations.
- What happens if I need an enhancement?
Always ask how post-operative care is managed once the surgery has been performed and the year of post-op care has been completed. Some locations will not perform adjustments on their own patients after a few years, leaving many clients disappointed and without treatment options, other than seeking a new provider.
- Does the site offer any warranties, guarantees, or coverage plans for needing enhancements in the future?
Patient satisfaction is consistent and extraordinarily high for IntraLASIK procedures across the country, but be skeptical of warranties and guarantees - the eyes are a natural part of the human body, and the human body is a complex, living, breathing organism. You will heal, change, and age throughout your life, and no physician should “guarantee” your surgical results.
That being said, make sure you’ve taken a good look at coverage options – coverage options offer the option of an enhancement over a given time period in the event that your vision could be safely improved with another procedure, and buffers against some of those possible costs in the event you elect for one. Many sites will offer coverage plans ranging from 1-20 years.
- What is the enhancement rate within one year?
National rates vary, but tend to reside between 5-15%. While every practice and site is different, lower rates are obviously preferred, and an exceptional IntraLASIK center should have enhancement rates consistently below the national average.
- Avoiding the PRK vs IntraLASIK switch: is IntraLASIK the correct procedure for me?
PRK is an older procedure than both traditional LASIK and IntraLASIK, and, though safe and effective, is unnecessary in cases where a patient is eligible for (Intra)LASIK. PRK, while an excellent and viable procedure, requires a longer healing period and recovery time, during which discomfort may occur. If you’re unsure of your options, ask your doctor about the likelihood of needing PRK instead of LASIK, and ask about the center’s ratio of PRK vs LASIK cases.
- Inspecting the site and team: What kinds of lasers are being used? Is the equipment owned or rented? Is the surgeon available at the practice, or only on surgery days? Does the site have an ophthalmologist on site at all times in the case of an emergency?
Few complications arise in LASIK surgery, but in the event that you are having issues or concerns, access to your doctors and surgeons is imperative.
So are a thorough understanding, comfort and confidence, and responsibility of your LASIK team for the equipment and technology they utilize. LASIK is an investment, and that investment should always be demonstrated by the center in equal part; make sure your surgical site has the means, accountability, and experience to fully own and operate their instruments and tech.
- Does your site participate in comprehensive eye health care, ocular disease issues, injuries, and emergencies? If I experience an unrelated incident with my eye(s), will I be able to seek help with the same team of doctors involved in my LASIK procedure?
The eyes and visual system are made up of countless components, and sometimes ocular health issues can arise completely independent of LASIK. Injuries, cataracts, diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and red-eye incidences are just a few examples. Make sure your care and surgery are done at a site that can handle the wide array of issues and concerns you may have; many sites provide care only pertaining to LASIK and refuse their own patients if the issue lies outside of the scope of the original surgery, even if the problem could impact their LASIK vision. LASIK can provide a lifetime of great vision – so choose a team that will stand by you during that lifetime.