02 November 2016
Like all surgical procedures laser eye surgery is not without its risks. Whilst an extremely safe treatment, there are many factors involved in making sure you get the best possible treatment. This is especially true when choosing a clinic or surgeon.
Firstly, do your research! Make sure you examine testimonials from patients who have been treated by the surgeon you are considering. What were their experiences? Why did they want to have laser eye surgery and what was their result and aftercare? Make sure it’s the right surgeon and the right clinic for you.
Most modern clinics will have up-to-date lasers with the latest technology, including diagnostic and scanning equipment. The lasers used in your treatment will also be similar; as will the drops and aftercare programmes offered. One of the key differentiating factors however will be your surgeon. Ultimately it is the surgeon who will be operating the equipment and performing your laser eye surgery. It is vitally important that the treating doctor is experienced in this field and has carefully analysed their own results over a period of years. This allows them to use these audits to constantly improve how they program the laser and hence improve their outcomes. It is the combination of modern equipment and an experienced surgeon who knows how their laser performs that gives the best results.
Choose a surgeon with experience – not one who looks the most marketable or has a string of ‘celebrity’ patients listed on their website (many of whom will have been treated free of charge “as part of the deal” or may even have been paid for their input!). Your surgeon is treating your eyes, not someone else’s! What sort of academic background does your chosen surgeon have? Are they accredited NHS consultants who are experienced in a variety of different procedures – not just laser – and can therefore advise an alternative if laser is not right for you. Have they trained and worked in an NHS teaching hospital such as the world-renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital? Will they see you at each visit and are they available out of hours via, for example, mobile phone. These are all important questions to ask when considering laser eye surgery.
At The David Gartry Eye Clinic we are strong advocates of much stricter controls over laser eye surgery. David Gartry, probably one of the most experienced eye surgeons in the UK, has campaigned for these controls and was a key player in the development of the ‘Certificate in Laser Refractive Surgery’. This is an examination, held annually at The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, which leads to a certificate of competence to practice. It provides reassurance to patients in knowing that their surgeon has had to pass these stringent tests.
In addition to the required medical qualifications the Certificate in Laser Refractive Surgery ensures that surgeons that pass meet certain specific criteria:
- They must have specialist ophthalmic qualifications verified by The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
- A minimum amount of time must be spent in training and in practice in general ophthalmology.
- Specific amounts of time must have been spent in training and in practice in laser eye surgery.
- Their treatments are subjected to audits.
- Specific platform (the type of laser) training must have been carried out.
- Continual professional development must be ongoing and evidence of this provided.
- The surgeon must be a member of relevant refractive surgery societies.
Since it’s inception in 2007, 71 ophthalmologists have been successful in obtaining this post-graduate qualification and if you are considering laser eye surgery it would be our recommendation to ask your surgeon if they have taken the exam and hold this Certificate in Laser Refractive Surgery (Cert LRS).