Once you’ve made the decision to undergo eye surgery, the next big step is to choose who your surgeon will be. This is no small undertaking; once on the operating table, the fate of your vision is quite literally in your surgeon’s hands. So choose wisely, and never make a commitment—with either your wallet or your vision—before sufficient research has been done beforehand. There’s no simple path to finding your eye surgeon, because the “right” surgeon is different for every patient. Still, there are fundamentals that can be followed to help you along the way.
Start small and simple. Chances are that you already have an optometrist to whom you go for yearly vision exams and prescriptions, so drop him or a her a note. If you’re considering eye surgery for a preexisting vision disease such as cataracts or glaucoma, then you may want to speak to your ophthalmologist instead. Use a physician that you’re already familiar with as a starting point and ask for references and recommendations. Whoever your optometrist or ophthalmologist is, he or she is connected to a network of people who work in the area of vision health and will provide a useful launching pad to begin your search.
Personal recommendations may be helpful as well. If you know friends, relatives, or coworkers who have undergone eye surgery before, then it never hurts to ask about their experiences with their respective surgeons. Never take a recommendation at full face value, however—helpful as it may be, remember that it is only the beginning of your research process.
An Emphasis on Experience
Would you be willing to be the very first patient of a recently licensed eye surgeon fresh out of medical school? Most patients would shy away from such a surgeon, regardless of how distinguished his or her educational background and awards may be. But what if you didn’t know the background of the surgeon hovering over your operating table?
It pays to dig into the background of your potential surgeons. Experience is a powerful factor in many patients’ choice of surgeons, and for more than the most obvious reason. If costs are a concern for your eye surgery, you may be tempted by lower fees—but the countercost of less experience may be lurking behind the price tag. Ask your surgeon not only about the board certifications and memberships he or she holds, but about his or her previous operations. How many eye surgeries has your surgeon performed, and how recently? What was the success rate among previous patients? What was the nature of these ocular surgeries, and are they the same procedure as the one you want? All these questions can give you a better grasp of the breadth of your surgeon’s experience.
Know Your Options
And last of all, you should choose a surgeon who will lay all the possible options on the table for you. With new innovations and technology emerging rapidly in the field of eye surgery, the choices can be dizzying. Your surgeon should be willing to discuss all choices with you, balancing cost, risk, customization, and results to create a plan that is best suited to keep your vision healthy.