Choosing a Surgeon for Your Laser Eye Surgery
When heading into the hospital for any type of surgery, you generally don’t have to give a second thought to who your surgeon will be. You can be sure that whoever carries out your procedure will be qualified and experienced enough for the job.
That’s because when it comes to standard medical practice, there are strict rules and regulations in place to ensure that not just any regular Joe can decide to walk in off the street and take the lead on your appendix surgery. But while that might be a bit of an extreme comparison, the same isn’t necessarily true when it comes to elective procedures like Laser Eye Surgery.
Of course, all laser eye surgeons need to be qualified. There are, unsurprisingly, basic standards for being a surgeon. However, whether surgeons meet specific standards for being a Laser Eye surgeon, as set out by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and to what degree – as well as what additional or specialist training they have – can vary significantly.
So, how do you go about choosing the right surgeon for the job?
What to look for when choosing your surgeon
The good news about Laser Eye Surgery is that you can choose your own surgeon. This allows you to do some research and identify experienced and highly-qualified surgeons. But what should you be looking out for?
As we alluded to above, under current regulations, it is only technically necessary for a laser eye surgeon to meet basic standards to perform Laser Eye Surgery. As well as being a GMC-registered physician, Laser Eye surgeons can obtain a certificate from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists through a one-day examination. However, this is a comparatively basic qualification that does not cover anything in-depth.
Essentially, this means, that the procedure can be performed by a surgeon or doctor without specialist training. But, understandably, many experienced Laser Eye surgeons insist that this simply isn’t enough.
We advise that, when considering having Laser Eye Surgery, patients should always look for a surgeon who has specialty fellowship training in corneal surgery. Furthermore, they should also have a fellowship sub-specialty in refractive Laser Eye Surgery.
Unfortunately, the availability of refractive surgery fellowship specialist training is very limited in the UK. This means that so many surgeons learn refractive surgery after qualifying — ie. ‘on the job’. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that a surgeon won’t be able to do a good job of your procedure (many will do a fantastic job), it does mean that standards can vary significantly from clinic to clinic.
As mentioned earlier, many Laser Eye surgeons in the UK effectively learn their trade on the job. This can mean that your surgery could be carried out by a surgeon with very little practical experience. On the other hand, they may have performed thousands of procedures.
But while you do want to be confident that your surgeon is experienced, it is important not to assume that a higher turnover of patients equals a higher-quality surgeon. For example, while a surgeon at a high-street clinic may have treated many patients, this is often because these clinics have higher quotas for their surgeons to meet. Importantly, more treatments do not necessarily mean greater safety or better results.
Another way to measure a surgeon’s experience is their experience with the specific Laser Eye Surgery procedure you are interested in. For example, LASIK, ReLEx SMILE, or PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision. Not all clinics are able to offer all of these treatments (or treat higher prescriptions), so this should also be taken into account when you make your decision.
Getting to Know Your Surgeon
If the first two criteria have been met and you think you have found the right surgeon for you, it’s worth considering how much time you will have with your surgeon. At some clinics, patients will only see their surgeon on the day of the procedure. After the surgery, it is not uncommon to meet with various optometrists and other clinic staff throughout your recovery process.
At London Vision Clinic, your first post-operative appointment will be with the surgeon who performed your surgery. You will also be given your surgeon’s personal phone number so you can get in touch immediately if you have any concerns following your procedure.
Choosing the right surgeon and clinic to perform your Laser Eye Surgery treatment can be a daunting prospect. But taking the time to investigate all your options and ask the important questions can really pay off in the end.
If you have any questions about Our Surgeons or treatment at London Vision Clinic, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators today. Alternatively, Book a Consultation to start your journey to clear vision.