How to Choose A Laser Eye Surgeon
When you go in for a routine surgery, you don’t have to give much thought to who the surgeon is going to be and if they’re qualified for the job.
The fact is, there are strict regulations in place that mean you’re not just going to have any Tom, Dick or Harry off the street slicing into your abdomen to fix that hernia.
However, whereas that may be the case in standard medical practice, the world of elective procedures is a lot less clear cut.
Thankfully, there are basic standards for being a surgeon and even specific standards for being a laser eye surgeon from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth). However, although they have to meet the former, whether they meet the latter or not, to what to degree, and what additional or specialist training they have all vary from clinic to clinic.
When choosing a laser eye surgeon, then, it is crucial you do some background reading and investigating before you decide where you’re having your treatment. Doing so can help reduce the chances of complications and ensure you have the highest possibility of achieving your best outcome.
What to consider when choosing a laser eye surgeon
One of the most important things to discover when choosing a surgeon is whether or not they’ve had formal refractive surgery training, and in particular, if they are an expert in the procedure you are undergoing.
To become a laser eye surgeon, you must be a qualified doctor (General Medical Council (GMC) registered physician). Following this, there is a certificate you can obtain from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists through a one-day examination, but it is only a very basic qualification that does not cover anything in-depth.
Unfortunately, the availability of refractive surgery fellowship specialist training is very limited in the UK, so many surgeons learn refractive surgery after qualifying — ie. ‘on the job’. Because of this, standards vary within the field. As well as asking a surgeon if they have undergone formal refractive surgery training, you can ask for how long, how many procedures he or she performs per week, and whether he or she is also a trained corneal specialist.
As a patient, you should also seek a laser eye surgeon who has experience in the specific Laser Eye Surgery procedure you are interested in (for example, LASIK, ReLEx SMILE, PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision, etc.)
It’s also advisable to check what range of prescriptions your chosen clinic can safely treat; at the London Vision Clinic, thanks to the unparalleled accuracy of our Artemis technology we are able to safely treat very high prescriptions, as well as diagnose potential issues so as to ensure that patients end up with their best possible outcome.
While more experienced laser eye surgeons will have performed a higher number of procedures, it is important not to assume that high turnover equals a higher-quality surgeon. This is particularly the case as highstreet clinics can have high quotas that surgeons have to meet and also because more treatments does not mean greater safety.
One of the critical elements here is to ask if your surgeon will be the one to do your first post-operative check (as well as any subsequent post-op visits, if things are not yet settled). While at some clinics, patients will only see their surgeon on their surgery day itself, at London Vision Clinic, you will be seen by your surgeon — the person ultimately responsible for the care of your eyes — on the first day following surgery.
It can be difficult to approach the question of finding the best provider, especially as advertising and marketing about Laser Eye Surgery is full of myths and inaccuracies. For example, almost every provider says that they have the best technology — which is very confusing (not to mention impossible).
If you’re considering Laser Eye Surgery, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns about which clinic is right for you. It’s important to investigate all of your options and take time over your decision.
If you’d like to find out about our surgeons or have an informal, no-obligation conversation with an all-things-Laser-Eye-Surgery expert, drop a comment below or send a message to one of our friendly clinic coordinators.