Why You Should Talk with Your Eye Doctor Before LASIK Eye SurgeryAuthor: Dr. William Tullo
July 2, 2013
Eye doctors seem like the perfect people to strike up LASIK conversations. But they might not broach the subject themselves. Next time you're considering LASIK, make a note to talk to your regular eye doctor first.
Your regular eye doctor is most familiar with your unique eye conditions and vision history. While not all eye doctors will initiate a conversation about laser eye surgery, don’t let this prevent you from broaching the subject. Besides, your eye doctor can recommend a trusted eye surgeon to perform the LASIK eye surgery. You may feel more comfortable with your eye doctor’s referral than with a laser eye surgeon you stumbled across online.
“The typical optometrist is familiar with local surgeons and their reputation,” said Dr. Eric Polk, clinical director of TLC Laser Eye Centers in St. Louis. “An optometrist can take the guesswork out of where to go for LASIK surgery and will send their patients to someone they trust.”
How do I get my eye doctor working with my ophthalmologist?
The initial communication between your eye doctor and eye surgeon is the first step in team-based LASIK eye care, also known as LASIK co-management. Although your regular eye doctor won’t perform the surgery, he or she can help evaluate whether or not LASIK is right for you and assist in creating a vision treatment plan.
When your laser eye surgery case is co-managed, the eye doctor generally sees you for most of your pre- and post-operative eye care visits. That means your eye doctor is a good resource to discuss your expectations and evaluate any risks of the laser eye surgery.
Remember that while LASIK can treat nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, and while it can greatly reduce your need for contact lenses and eye glasses, it does not guarantee you will never need vision aids again.
What will my eye doctor do?
“The optometrist can check corneal thickness, corneal curvature, eye glasses prescription, check the health of the cornea and perform a complete exam to determine if a patient is a good candidate,” Dr. Polk said. “The optometrist will also ask questions about why the patient wants to have LASIK surgery and let the patient know if they have realistic expectations.”
This helps the doctor determine if someone is a good candidate for laser eye surgery.
“If the doctor finds that the patient is a good candidate for LASIK [or another type of laser eye surgery], they can refer the patient to a refractive surgeon and send the results of the testing to the laser center,” Dr. Polk said. “The patient will then make an appointment at the laser center to complete testing before having LASIK surgery.”
When a LASIK eye surgeon co-manages a patient’s surgery with an eye doctor, the patient will usually return to their regular eye doctor for post-operative care. Many patients prefer this type of eye care.
Not all laser eye centers co-manage with eye doctors. You can receive better care when you keep your eye doctor in the loop, and when your LASIK eye surgeon and your primary eye doctor are communicating about your care.