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Contemplating Laser Eye Surgery (Part 2) Finding the right LASIK surgeon

Finding the Right LASIK Surgeon

If you are a candidate for LASIK, your next step will be the most important one: finding the right physician to perform the procedure.  You will need an ophthalmologist to perform your LASIK surgery.  An ophthalmologist is a licensed medical doctor who has a minimum of four years of additional training after medical school.  This advanced training usually involves a one-year internship in internal medicine or general surgery, followed by three or four years in an ophthalmology residency.  A select group of ophthalmologists complete an additional year or two of fellowship training in corneal or refractive surgery.  Following are some suggestions to help you identify the most qualified surgeons.

Ask Other Patients

If you know people who have had the LASIK procedure, ask them who their surgeon was and how they felt about their overall experience.  Were they happy with the outcome? Did they have confidence in their surgeon?  Was the surgeon compassionate, and did he or she take time to answer questions before and after the procedure?  Was the support staff helpful?  Personal experiences are powerful indicators of the quality of care.

Ask Your Eye Doctor

An eye care practitioner whom you trust and respect is another good source of referrals.  Because referring patients is a routine and important part of their professional practice, these physicians will almost always be able to recommend a nearby LASIK surgeon with a sound reputation.

Contact Ophthalmic Boards and Medical Associations

Some medical organizations, such as the American Board of Ophthalmology, provide information about physicians free of charge to consumers.  Ask for names of ophthalmologists who specialize in corneal and refractive surgery who have been certified by the board.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology also has a Web site, www.aao.org, where you may search for member eye doctors by city, state, and specialty (refractive surgery).  The site lists doctors’ practice focus, current professional activity, educational history and degrees, residency, fellowships, teaching positions, board certification, contact information, and often a Web site address.

The International Society of Refractive Surgery also maintains a list of member surgeons on its Web site, www.isrs.org.  This list is less comprehensive than the American Academy of Ophthalmology list for US surgeons but is a better list for finding surgeons outside the United States.  Note that membership in this and other organizations does not necessarily mean the surgeon is board certified.

Check your local library for the four-volume Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists.  This publication lists by region refractive surgeons who have been certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.  To verify whether a specific eye doctor is board certified, you can also call ABMS at 866-ASK-ABMS (275-2267), or go on the ABMS Web site at www.abms.org. 

Using the Internet

                If you like doing consumer research on the Internet, you will find much information about LASIK online.  Keep in mind, however, that the Internet is an unsupervised and largely unregulated medium.  Much of the information about LASIK on the Internet is either inaccurate or incomplete.

You may also find commercial directories, both online and elsewhere, that list surgeons who perform LASIK.  Surgeons pay to be included in these listings much like the yellow pages, so the sites are of limited use.  Most of them do not check a surgeon’s credentials, so be sure to research the doctors’ credentials thoroughly.