When it comes to eye surgery, there are a couple of key decisions that need to be made.
The first is to commit to the treatment and the next is to choose a particular Ophthalmologist to proceed. For some people finding the right specialist often comes before deciding to go ahead with treatment.
Making a choice is very much a personal process, but there’s a number of things to know — and questions to ask – that can help you make an informed decision with which you can be confident and comfortable and that’s right for you.
The differences between an Ophthalmologist and an optometrist.
An Ophthalmologist is an eye surgeon. An Ophthalmologist is a doctor who has completed medical school, plus an internship in a hospital and have then gone on to completing specialist medical training in eye surgery and eye diseases.
Optometrists provide services that include vision examinations and the diagnosis of problems with vision or eye diseases. They prescribe glasses, contact lenses and some eye medications.
How to narrow your search
It’s likely that you will be referred to one or more possible Ophthalmologists by your GP or optometrist or perhaps by word-of-mouth – but how do you make a decision between a number of different professionals?
1) Level of experience and track record
Like any highly skilled profession, there’s no better school than experience. Generally speaking the more eyes an Ophthalmologist has examined, the more problems they’ve diagnosed and the more procedures they have undertaken, the better. And this should apply specifically to the procedure you are considering. Meanwhile if an Ophthalmologist has their surgical outcomes readily to hand – figures, graphs and charts — then you can have confidence the practice has a quantifiable and ongoing commitment to quality.
2) Quality of the surgery and level of care
Another key way to assess an Ophthalmologist is to check, via a series of questions, how the medical practice you are considering approach the care of their patients through the entire process.
Your questions should include:
a) What medical conditions does the practice specialise in? Do they match with your particular condition?
b) Who will be my primary point of contact at the surgery? Will it be a surgeon, a nurse or a care co-ordinator?
c) How many consultations will there be with my Ophthalmologist before the scheduled procedure?
d) Who will do the follow-up consultations after the surgery? What are their qualifications?
e) Is this a specialist cataract or refractive surgery facility or is it a Ophthalmic surgery offering refractive surgery as a speciality in addition to full services? Is the surgery owned and/or managed by Ophthalmologists?
f) Do all prospective patients undergo a full range of tests, at an screening exam, to check their eligibility for surgery?
g) If LASIK surgery is being considered, you should ask: what percentage of LASIK surgery candidates are rejected? (If a practice is cautious and diligent they will typically pass on over 10 per cent of candidates).
3) Professional credentials
Check your Ophthalmologist’s professional credentials – and it’s easy to do this online before making an appointment. Google the Ophthalmologist to find out where they went to medical school. Was it at one of the large and reputable institutions? What are their qualifications? Do they speak at medical conferences and have they authored medical papers? Are they respected in their field? Have they won awards? Are they a member of any professional bodies?
Don’t be shy about asking for this information directly from the Ophthalmic facility – a reputable practice will happily release this information and readily have it to hand.
4) At the first appointment
Having satisfied yourself with the Ophthalmologist’s professional background, procedures and credentials – immediately following your first appointment, it’s useful to confirm your level of comfort and trust directly.
Like all healthy relationships, a good rapport is important.
- Ask yourself if you felt listened to and if all your questions and concerns were listened to and answered.
- Were you comfortable that the exam was thorough and were you comfortable with the level of care you received?
Committing to an Ophthalmologist
If you don’t feel comfortable, for any reason, don’t hesitate to try elsewhere. Informed health choices – not the least choosing an Ophthalmologist that’s right for you — is based on confidence and trust and this, in turn, can lead to better outcomes all round.