The Truth about Discount / Value LASIK
“Where you have your eye surgery will be one of the most important decisions you will ever make …”
The Associated Ophthalmologists, PC Difference
Dr. Husain is a board certified and fellowship trained corneal refractive surgeon. He will provide your complete eye care from the initial consultation through all of your post-op visits. He will determine your precise prescription, assess the health of your eyes, and discuss directly with you different procedures available, as well as the risks and benefits of the surgery.
Dr. Husain uses state-of-the-art technology that has been rigorously tried and tested in millions of eyes. Newest generation FDA-approved iDesign driven laser vision correction procedures will be used. Both LASIK and flap-free bladeless laser vision correction (Advanced Surface Ablation) will be offered and discussed with the you. Fortunately, many patients realize that it is not the technology alone but in fact the experience, judgment, and ethics of the surgeon behind the technology that really make a difference in their visual outcome.
Discount-value Corporate Chains
At the discount-value corporate chains, the surgeon will meet you on the day of surgery for a few minutes and sometimes when the patient is lying under the laser. The surgeon is a “hired gun” usually from a different city or state and visits the center only on the day of surgery. Your pre-operative care and all follow up visits will be co-managed and delegated to technicians or optometrists. These personnel are not medical doctors since they have not attended a medical school. In the discount-value and co-managed model, the surgeon is not accessible for questions, complications and follow-up patient visits. These centers typically function by doing a high volume of cases at lower costs and patients move through an “assembly line.”
The discount-value centers rely heavily on overly sensational and deceptive advertisements on TV, radio and newspapers. Since this model minimizes the role of the surgeon in the care of your eyes, they try to attract you with unsubstantiated claims of superior technology and safety. They use catch phrases such as “bladeless LASIK”, “safer LASIK”, or “all laser LASIK” to appeal to you. They repeatedly remind you that their lower price does not compromise quality. They always have extra fees for “better technology” and nickel and dime you as their prices often depend on the level of your prescription.
In short, by utilizing “bait-and-switch” and upselling with high-pressure sales tactics, these centers clearly demonstrate a money over medicine philosophy. If these chains are really interested in your safety and well-being, then one should question why the surgeon is not involved in the pre- and post-operative care of your eyes. Laser vision correction is not a thirty-minute miracle, but a three to six-month treatment process best managed by your surgeon.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article detailing doctor accounts of such discount-value chains. It describes the assembly-line, non-personalized nature of such corporate chains.
Have you ever heard about discount heart surgery or budget plastic surgery?
Keep in mind that you cannot purchase a new set of eyes for the amount of money you save by going to corporate discount-value centers. Do not bargain shop for a surgeon or look for cheaper surgery. You should look for a surgeon who is well established and respected in your area. Find patients that the surgeon has treated and talk to them about their experience. The best outcomes can only be achieved through customized care and high-quality personalized service. Customization and planning require time, experience, ethics and direct patient surgeon interaction throughout the surgical management process.
FDA Approved Technology
All technological devices used in Laser vision correction should be approved by the FDA. The FDA studies show all these devices are equivalent in their efficacy, safety and predictability. It would be inappropriate for the FDA to approve lasers or devices that are unequal in their safety profile. Therefore, be wary of claims in ads that try to attract patients with claims of superior technology and safety. Numerous studies have shown that it is in fact the surgeon’s experience, judgment and quality of care which drives the results. The technology is only as good as the surgeon utilizing it. If the surgeon is meticulous in managing the patients and is attentive to detail, the chances of a successful outcome are maximized. It is also better to use state-of-the-art technology that has undergone rigorous and exhaustive testing over a long period of time in millions of patients (industry standard), rather than jumping on the bandwagon of a new technology that has just been approved and has not undergone extensive long-term follow-up. A conservative approach to surgery is very important. Although we all look forward to better technology for our patients, be wary of claims in ads that just seem to push technology. Similar claims were made over the last few years with other procedures, which, despite the great hype, have been discarded by most ophthalmologists.