Beyond the laser: research rules when choosing the right laser eye clinic

Laser eye decision

If you are considering laser eye surgery and have felt overwhelmed by the amount of information available, chances are you are not alone.

It can be a daunting task to research laser eye surgery on your own. From unscrambling popular surgical acronyms and deciphering different treatment costs, to choosing from countless clinics claiming to have the best technology and most experience, there is a lot to consider.

The good news is if you’ve ever thought about laser vision correction, Perth is a great place to have it done.

At Aculase we are always thrilled to see how happy our patients are when they experience a great vision result after refractive surgery and believe other local clinics have similar goals.

The laser eye surgery clinics in Perth are all medical practices directed by Ophthalmologists (Eye Surgeons) who are dedicated to running ethical businesses and are all regulated by the Medical Board of Australia.

For overseas readers, chances are that most of the best known clinics in your area are both reputable and reliable. However, like any industry, there are always exceptions.

In this blog we share some great tips on how to choose the right clinic for your needs so you can make an informed decision and received the highest quality of care

Right tools for the job

At Aculase, we understand that the diagnostic equipment is just as important as the treatment lasers. That’s because, without accurate diagnostic equipment and testing, the treatment choice and accuracy of treatment may be suboptimal.

In order to provide a reliable result, all instruments and equipment must be up-to-date and kept in tip-top condition.

If you are offered diagnostic tests and an assessment appointment, you should consider this your first opportunity to check the quality of the practice, starting with the equipment they use.

Your Ophthalmologist may use automatic autorefractors (a machine that provides a reading on a patient’s optical defect) or computer phoropters (a machine with various lenses inside that can simulate a pair of glasses of any strength) for optical testing.

For corneal screening and diagnosis, Scheimpflug topography or OCT are generally used. There are other choices but keep in mind that some of the older generation equipment may have been superseded over 10 years ago.

And since diagnostic instruments are significantly cheaper than lasers, this simple check gives an indication of the capital investment a clinic is willing to commit to maintaining a standard.

 Current topography diagnostics equipment

Quality matters

The best laser equipment is worth over $1 million (AU) to purchase and can cost more than $100,000 a year to maintain.

These expenses are a major contributor to the cost of the surgery you may be offered. There is massive cost saving to a business if it chooses to use lasers made by lesser known manufacturers (see popular brands below), or who use very old lasers and reduce the amount of regular maintenance performed.

So, whether you are considering PRK, LASIK flap or SMILE, it is important to find out which laser/s a clinic may use.

How can I tell if the equipment is old?

Most of these highly specialised tools have a futuristic look as part of their design appeal. Don’t let this fool you. If the instrument looks old to you, then it is probably much older than you think.

For instance, some of the older generation instruments are still running on computers that use pre Windows XP operating systems and the screen and graphics often reflect that era.

The treatment laser must also be up-to-date and maintained to its manufacturer's standards. Most of the laser vision clinics in Perth would meet these standards because we all have similar suppliers and equipment service contracts in place but don’t be afraid to ask a potential clinic which supplier/s they use.

Tellingly, if the clinic has equipment from a major international laser company – such as Alcon, Allegretto, AMO, Bausch and Lomb, Schwinn, Visx, Ziemer, and Zeiss – then it should be trustworthy in terms of surgical hardware. It is important to note that some of these brands have stopped developing new products (AMO, Bausch and Lomb with Excimer Laser); and some (such as Schwinn) are not US FDA approved as they never entered that market. However, the lasers from these companies should be accurate if they are maintained and calibrated to the prescribed schedule.

There are still clinics in Australia that use outdated and unproven equipment. And if you are a reader from overseas, it is particularly vital to check the brand of a laser when visiting a prospective clinic as every country has different regulations and standards.

Customer service matters too

Of course, an exceptional laser eye surgery experience is about more than just the equipment.

Ask yourself: Are the staff friendly, well trained and knowledgeable? Do you feel like you are just a number on a production line? Can you trust the surgeon you saw? Did you have the opportunity to have all of your questions answered?

Facebook, Google + and local forum reviews may shed some light on a prospective clinic. And don’t underestimate word-of-mouth feedback from family and friends to help you determine how good, or bad, the service may be.

Consider also, whether you would prefer the boutique feel of a clinic on high street or a more clinical approach to your surgery. At Aculase, we offer a balance between the two and believe that laser eye surgery should be a pleasant, safe, empowering experience where clinical standards are exceeded.

Hygiene is king!

The last thing to check is that the laser treatment theatre meets high sterility standards at all times. Before agreeing to a procedure, it is not unreasonable to ask if you can see the operating room. If the room and equipment look old this should raise a red flag.

If your surgeon is offering Microkeratome surgery (utilising a type of blade, rather than a laser) note that this is rarely used in Australia anymore.

Using blades (instead of laser) and reusing disposable blades are a few of the ways some overseas clinics cut costs. Unfortunately, we have witnessed some of the poor results that come about from reusing blades and strongly suggest avoiding these clinics.

Blunt microkeratome blade

 

We are here to help

We hope this article provides insight when considering the points of difference between clinics in your area and helps you make an informed choice to suit your eye condition. If you are wondering whether you could be a candidate for laser eye surgery at Aculase, please take our online suitability test or call us on 08 9388 1828 for more information.

Aculase Laser Eye Surgery Video Click 3

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