14 Important Points to Consider before Selecting your LASIK Surgeon
How would you like to get answers to the most important questions regarding LASIK, including the exact criteria needed in order to evaluate any eye surgeon you are considering?
Well, consider yourself lucky.
While every LASIK surgery and outcome is unique to the patient, an overwhelming majority of our patients at Woolfson Eye Institute achieve 20/20 vision or better. Having performed thousands of procedures, we are able to use this data to more accurately predict outcomes for our future patients. Utilizing this data allows us to fine-tune the system in order to ensure the best possible results.
As you’ll see below, we want to offer you massive value just for visiting our website. We provide detailed answers to 14 of the most frequently discussed issues that prospective LASIK patients want to know about.
This is your eyesight and you deserve to know ALL of the answers to make an informed decision when choosing a LASIK surgeon. So sit back and relax, and let us share with you a little about our practice and what you need to know.
1. Number of Procedures Performed, Training, Certification, Credentials, etc.
Adequate training, experience, and expertise are essential to any job, especially in the medical field. Would you want an inexperienced spinal surgeon removing a tumor from your spinal column? No. How about a cosmetic dentist fresh out of dental school being solely responsible for restoring your smile? Probably not.
Then why on earth would you want to choose anyone other than the most experienced, qualified LASIK surgeon in the southeastern United States to perform your LASIK surgery? The answer again is quite obvious…you wouldn’t!
Dr. Woolfson has performed over 80,000 LASIK & PRK procedures.
You may be wondering the significance of 80,000. After all, wouldn’t someone be an expert after a few hundred LASIK procedures?
There was a book written in 2008 called Outliers: The Story of Success written by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, he builds on the original research conducted in 1993 by Anders Ericsson, a professor at the University of Colorado, who published a paper titled, “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.”
We will spare you the details, but the point of the story is that it takes a significant amount of time to become an expert in any particular field, especially in regards to any form of elective surgery. The estimate is around 10,000 hours, meaning that a few hundred or even a few thousand LASIK procedures hardly qualifies any doctor to be considered an expert amongst their peers.
However, with over 80,000 LASIK procedures performed, it is safe to say that Dr. Woolfson has earned his “10,000-hour expert status.”
It is also about results and the data from those results.
“At Woolfson Eye Institute, our 80,000 procedures also means we have 80,000 real case results. This is a significant advantage for a LASIK surgery practice, as it gives the ophthalmologists and optometrists 80,000 data points to examine.
By studying this data, and applying it to future cases, we can more accurately prescribe the appropriate amount of ‘lasering’ required for each patient, thus increasing the probability of a successful procedure for each and every patient who is a candidate for LASIK or PRK surgery.”
This amount of data and how we utilize that information to improve outcomes for future patients truly sets our practice apart from other laser vision correction centers in the Atlanta area and around the Southeast.
What about qualifications of the doctor?
When selecting any doctor, qualifications are important. When selecting a surgeon who will be operating on your eyes, qualifications are absolutely vital. One of the most important things to consider is not only the qualifications of the doctor who will be performing the surgery, but the qualifications of the entire team of doctors.
Dr. Woolfson went through residency in ophthalmology, then focused his practice exclusively on refractive surgeries, such as LASIK and PRK. As time went on, Dr. Woolfson added sub-specialists in a variety of disciplines in order to provide specialized eye care to enable the practice to handle a wide variety of eye disorders.
Most of the doctors at Woolfson Eye Institute are sub-specialists who have completed fellowships (advanced training in a certain area of eye care), and are highly trained in that one specific area. In fact, we have a retina specialist, a glaucoma specialist, an oculoplastic surgeon, as well as several cornea, cataract, and refractive surgery specialists.
What is the benefit to a patient?
The benefit to our patients is that no matter what issues arise regarding your eye health, we have a true specialist available to analyze the situation and to provide proper medical treatment, often in conjunction with your current eye care practitioner.
2. Where Will the Surgery be Performed?
So you basically want to know that your surgery isn’t going to take place in some shady back room of a 2nd-rate clinic, right?
This is an important question to ask your LASIK surgeon, as you want to make sure you are comfortable, not just with your surgeon and team of doctors, but with the facility and staff, as well.
At Woolfson Eye Institute, we perform LASIK at all 9 of our practice locations around the Southeastern United States. In fact, we just recently added LASIK surgery to our Airport Location just outside of the I-285 perimeter. All of our facilities use state-of-the-art equipment, the finest doctors in the industry, as well as a comfortable and sterile environment.
3 Is the Initial Consultation Free?
At Woolfson Eye Institute, we’ve always felt that, before paying a dime, a person should be able to obtain information related to a procedure, as well as find out whether or not they are a candidate for that procedure. Some other LASIK providers do this as well, while some do not.
At our practice, we will review your medical history, as well as thoroughly examine your eyes to determine whether or not you are a candidate for LASIK surgery.
In the event that you are a candidate for LASIK, and you want to choose Woolfson Eye Institute as your LASIK provider, we will then move forward to discuss costs associated with the procedure, as well as any future appointments.
4. Do You Have Testimonials from Previous/Current Patients?
One of the things we hear most often from our LASIK patients who come in for their one-day, outpatient LASIK procedure is, “This is amazing, I wish I had done this years ago.”
It’s important for any LASIK provider you are considering to have results like these; and more importantly, they should have reviews and testimonials from satisfied patients on their website.
To make it easy for you, here is our testimonials page where you will find reviews from LASIK patients who had their surgery at Woolfson Eye Institute.
It is also important to note that over 300 Eye Doctors have chosen Dr. Woolfson as their LASIK surgeon. So rest assured, you are in great hands.
5. Does the Practice Receive Referrals from Independent Optometrists and Ophthalmologists?
As a surgical eye care practice and laser surgery center, what fellow eye care practitioners think about you is very important. After all, if you aren’t receiving referrals and recommendations from others, then you likely aren’t doing a very good job, regardless of the industry.
When Woolfson Eye Institute began in 2002, our goal was to focus on refractive eye procedures (such as LASIK and PRK) and become a leader in the industry. In order to do that, we established professional relationships with optometry and ophthalmology practices in the community, and demonstrated to them that they should be comfortable sending us their surgical patients.
“Part of our quality assurance is having outside practices evaluate our work. Think about it— would independent optometry and ophthalmology practices continue to refer their patients to Woolfson Eye Institute for LASIK surgery if we were not producing great results for our patients?”
There is a misconception, often fostered by dubious advertising campaigns, where some LASIK providers take the angle of, “You’ll never have to visit the eye doctor again.” This is completely false, and in fact, we fully encourage our LASIK patients to see their referring eye doctor once a year to ensure some continuity of care.
LASIK does not guarantee that other eye conditions, like glaucoma, will not occur. Yearly exams continue to be needed. We encourage our patients to see their primary eye care provider following surgery, as this is in their best interest. This also provides a valuable quality control measure for our work; the referring doctors communicate how patients are progressing, not just right after the surgery, but months and even years down the road.
6. What are Your Outcome Statistics? How Do They Compare to Others?
Everyone likes to compare numbers, but in the LASIK world it is always challenging to compare numbers between LASIK providers, as most medical practices do not make their information public.
While we certainly cannot guarantee a specific result with regards to any one person’s LASIK surgery, what we can do at Woolfson Eye is tell you, of the thousands of patients we have treated, an overwhelming majority achieve 20/20 vision or better. As mentioned earlier, having over 80,000 past results is very helpful. This allows us to more accurately predict outcomes for our future patients, and to continue to fine-tune the system to ensure constantly improving outcomes.
“For example, if you look at LASIK patients who start with nearsightedness that falls within the moderate level (3 to 6 diopters), our past analyses show that approximately 90% of patients in that range achieve 20/20 or better vision. Of that 90%, approximately 1/3 achieve better than 20/20 vision.”
7. Does the Woolfson Doctor Thoroughly Explain the Procedure, Including the Risks?
At Woolfson Eye Institute, we take great pride in the “informed consent” process. Any LASIK provider should provide every patient with a thorough discussion of both the risks and the benefits of refractive surgery. We believe that it is much more; informed consent is a process, not just a “cover your butt” legal document.
“Since each person’s situation is different, it is important that your LASIK doctor not only go over general facts and figures regarding LASIK, but also take time to evaluate and determine your SPECIFIC risks. In order to do this more effectively and to highlight this important quality control measure, we use our Woolfson Oral Consent form, which we call ‘The Purple Sheet,’ on which we document the specific aspects of that individual’s surgery and the known risks for that patient which were discussed.”
For example, if a patient has an irregular shaped cornea, which may place them at a higher risk for complications, we make sure that they fully understand how their anatomy affects their LASIK candidacy and their surgical risk. Any discussion of a higher risk also includes a discussion of what will be done to reduce that patient’s risk. In the case of irregular or extreme shapes of corneas, for instance, the option of “bladeless LASIK” is often recommended. In other cases, PRK might be the method of offering treatment at decreased risk to the patient.
By documenting this process and discussing it at multiple points during the LASIK process, we have an unmatched quality control in place. While matching our patients to the best procedure for their vision problem, we also want them to understand how and why those recommendations are being made.
8. What is the Average Recovery Time for Your Patients?
With a busy schedule including family, work, and your other commitments, the amount of time you must allow for recovery is a valid concern for anyone considering laser eye surgery.
We sometimes tell our patients that “LASIK is like magic,” which of course is hyperbole, but for most patients the recovery time following LASIK is minimal. Patients commonly have the procedure, and then have 20/20 vision and minimal irritation to the eyes the very next day.
PRK surgery, on the other hand, is often a different story. If a patient is not a candidate for LASIK, but a better fit for PRK surgery, they have to anticipate a longer recovery time. PRK does not provide the immediate gratification or “wow factor” that we see with LASIK patients.
PRK provides comparable results, but not comparable recovery. Our PRK patients typically experience several days of discomfort, and vision that improves gradually over the course of a few weeks. Typically, even after a tougher recovery, most patients still feel that PRK surgery was worth the little bit of added hassle.
9. What Causes LASIK Complications?
LASIK complications, while rare, do occur. As with any elective surgery, results cannot be guaranteed, and there is a very small percentage of patients who experience complications following LASIK or PRK surgery.
Everyone who considers LASIK surgery has some level of fear of developing a complication. One relatively rare complication is a corneal infection following surgery. The incidence nationally for infections after LASIK is approximately 1 in 5,000 cases.
“Out of 80,000 LASIK procedures performed at Woolfson Eye Institute, we’ve only had 2 cases (3 eyes total) where infection occurred. The national average rate of infection is approximately 1 in 5,000, so we believe we are doing something right to protect patients from this serious complication. The LASIK patients who did develop infections were treated and have recovered good vision.”
It’s also important to note that in addition to infection, complications can also occur when there is inflammation under the LASIK flap. Our rates of infection and inflammation complications are very low due to proper preparation before each procedure, but also because we take an aggressive approach to post-operative treatment with very effective antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops.
We take complications very seriously. We do everything in our power (from qualifying candidates for LASIK, screening for eye disease, and providing customized surgical solutions for each patient) to minimize the incidence of anything that would compromise our patient’s results.
What about pain and discomfort during/after the LASIK procedure?
We make every effort to prepare patients as much as possible for the level of discomfort they are likely to experience, as any premium provider of LASIK should do. Our goal is to accurately present this information to patients so that they experience a recovery comparable to what they expect. We are careful to accurately describe the level of discomfort a patient should anticipate during and after their LASIK or PRK procedure.
Very rarely does a patient tell us that their LASIK procedure hurt. In fact, the most common feedback we hear from patients is the feeling of an uncomfortable pressure on their eye for approximately 30-45 seconds during the creation of the LASIK flap. We prepare patients for this sensation, so while it isn’t exactly pleasant, patients on average are not particularly disturbed by what they experience.
Many patients describe the pressure sensation as being comparable to the feeling you get when you close your eyes and press down on your eyelids. LASIK is an unusual experience, and most patients describe it as weird, strange, or bizarre, but not painful.
10. Can I Find LASIK for Less?
Would you choose a brain surgeon or heart surgeon based on price? We didn’t think so. Your eyes are obviously one of your most important assets. They allow you to experience the world around you. Why on earth would you risk your vision with a bargain-priced eye surgery provider?
While I’m sure you’ve seen many advertisements for cheap LASIK surgery, keep in mind that is simply a ploy to get you in the door, and up-sell you on the specific treatment you really need. We are certainly not the cheapest LASIK provider, nor do we want to be. Our mission has always been to provide quality refractive surgery procedures at a reasonable price. Providing the level of service and care that every patient should demand requires a higher fee than the $499 per eye that some LASIK providers (falsely) advertise.
We do not have a one-size-fits-all model because Woolfson Eye Institute strives to provide the most appropriate treatment plan for each person’s vision condition. Sometimes this will involve selecting from a variety of vision correction technologies, which is one of several variables that may contribute to the final cost.
We’ve also heard countless stories from patients who go to “bargain LASIK clinics” and get charged significantly more than the advertised price. Many of the management staff members at these types of clinics are incentivized to ensure that patients do NOT receive those supposed “great deals” advertised. So as they say, buyer beware when choosing a “too good to be true” LASIK clinic based solely on cost.
11. Do You Offer Payment Options?
So now that we’ve properly advised you against choosing a LASIK surgeon based solely on price, let’s talk about financing.
We understand that shelling out thousands of dollars on LASIK is challenging even for someone who would greatly benefit from having the surgery. Therefore, we’ve partnered with one of the leading financing companies in the healthcare sector, CareCredit®, to provide patients with affordable payment options.
You can click here to visit the CareCredit website, apply, and get approved in less than 10 minutes! This is a very popular payment option for patients who do not wish to pay with cash or credit, and who would prefer to finance their procedure over a longer period of time.
12. Are Dry Eye and Glare Common Side-Effects?
When we talk to patients, we make sure to communicate the differences between side-effects and complications. A side effect is something that is temporary, while a complication is something that could have long-term consequences.
Two of the most common side effects of refractive surgery (both with LASIK and PRK) are glare and dry eye. With regards to glare, individuals with light-colored eyes tend to be more sensitive to light, and may also be at an increased risk for experiencing glare for a few weeks or even months after surgery.
Patients who have a history of dry eye are more likely to experience temporary worsening of their symptoms for a few weeks or months following their procedure. Why does dryness worsen? During refractive surgery, we are temporarily damaging the nerve endings in the cornea as part of the creation of flap as well as during the lasering part of the procedure. Most patients feel that this short-term discomfort is a reasonable price to pay for the vision improvement they’re seeking.
Since this is the case, the nerve endings that typically tell your brain, “Okay, it’s time to produce more moisture for the eyes,” are temporarily out of order. Everyone experiences a reduction in tear production in the weeks and months following LASIK, but this does not cause each patient to have dry eye.
What can a patient expect in the days and weeks following his or her LASIK surgery?
Typically, patients wake up the next day very excited. Most patients experience 20/20 vision for the first time without corrective lenses—and for the first time in years.
“In the weeks and months that follow, a few patients may report glare while driving at night, elevated levels of dry eye, or a scratchy feeling in the eyes. We send all of our patients home with lubricating drops to ensure they can effectively manage any of these temporary side effects.”
We do ask our patients to be very careful during the week following their procedure. This involves wearing protective glasses for 2-3 days, as well as avoiding any dusty or dirty environments. This helps to minimize infection and other complications.
We also encourage patients to stay away from pools, hot tubs, contact sports, or strenuous exercise. Basically, we do not want you to do anything that would cause you to rub your eyes aggressively in the week following your surgery. This could cause a LASIK flap shift, which causes the vision to change and we have to fix you again! This is not something we want, and it is certainly not something that you want to deal with.
13. How Long Does LASIK Last? Do Results Decrease Over Time?
At Woolfson Eye Institute, we work very hard to ensure with a high-level of confidence that we are only providing LASIK to patients who will see the benefit for a very long period of time. In fact, if you are an ideal candidate for LASIK, we like to tell patients that LASIK is forever.
We select patients for LASIK only if, based on our expert opinion, their cornea can be reshaped permanently to provide the desired result. On occasion, we do have to perform follow-up treatments for patients, not because the cornea has changed, but because as we age, other things are going on inside the eye that can cause vision changes.
Sometimes lens changes can also occur in older patients, and we will need to determine on a case-by-case basis if touch-ups are necessary, or if a lens-based procedure (such as cataract surgery) is the next logical step.
14. Why Should I Choose Woolfson over its Competitors for My LASIK?
This is a reasonable question to ask any LASIK practice before allowing them to operate on your eyes. Here are a few reasons why thousands of LASIK patients in the Atlanta area and around the Southeast have chosen Woolfson Eye Institute as their LASIK provider:
- “Dr. Woolfson is the most experienced laser eye surgeon in the region, and is surrounded by a team of specialists covering all facets of eye care. This is why over 300 eye doctors have chosen Dr. Woolfson for their own LASIK procedure.”
- Each patient gets personalized care and a customized treatment plan. We do not offer a one-size-fits-all solution because each case is different. We work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your particular situation.
- We have internal and external systems of quality control. Internally, our “purple sheet” (mentioned earlier in the article) ensures that each doctor and each patient are on the same page, and that all options, benefits, and risks have been discussed as they pertain to you. Externally, our referral partners provide an effective quality control measure, as they provide us with feedback from their patients to ensure our results are consistent, precise, and constantly improving.
- We genuinely care about each patient. Yes, we do a lot of LASIK procedures, but we also realize this is a big decision. If we are ever running behind schedule on a particular day, we do not hurry a patient. Each and every patient is valuable to us. This is a philosophy put in place by Dr. Woolfson and adopted by the rest of our team.
What should I do now?
We published this article so that anyone considering laser vision correction surgery would be better equipped to select their surgeon. Now that you have this information, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to click off this page and get lost in a sea of LASIK articles floating around the web? Are you going to say, “Well, maybe I’ll consider LASIK next year.”
We understand that your vision is one of your most important assets, which is why we hate to see patients delay or avoid LASIK surgery due to apprehension, fear, finances, or for any other reason.
There are many things you cannot change about yourself, but LASIK surgery (or the appropriate alternative procedure) may be able to give you the ability to see the world in a whole new way—crisp and clear.
All you have to do is visit our locations page here, and find the Woolfson Eye Institute location nearest you. Remember that your initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose by calling us and scheduling your evaluation. We look forward to seeing you at Woolfson Eye Institute. Don’t wait— call today!