The Truth About Laser Eye Surgery:
You have probably seen a lot more advertising about laser eye surgery now that the procedure is quite common. The ads that proclaim "$300 per eye*" etc. This is simply because there is a lot more competition, as more doctors are trained to perform the procedure. You should be aware that some laser eye clinics that advertise these low rates are using potentially dangerous methods of cutting costs. Not illegal, mind you, but potentially dangerous methods that you should be aware of.
Where Are Some Doctors Cutting Costs?
They may have the equipment serviced less often than recommended by the manufacturer, and might replace damaged parts only when the laser actually stops working. For the laser to perform most effectively, the optics (the mirrors inside the machine that direct the laser along its path) must be changed according to the maintenance schedule. Optics are expensive to replace, and someone cutting costs may fail to perform this maintenance.
"Gray Market" Lasers:
These are lasers that were once used in another country, shipped to the U.S. or Canada, reconditioned, then sold at a much lower cost. Use of these lasers does not guarantee a substandard performance, but they may not have been properly tested for use in North America. You must be sure that your surgeon is using a laser that is approved by the FDA or its Canadian equivalent.
Cutting Corners With Other Equipment:
The microkeratome requires sterilization and re-assembly between patients.
Be sure any equipment your surgeon uses is NOT reconditioned.
The microkeratome is a surgical instrument requiring sterilization and re-assembly between uses. The devices can cost between $50,000 and $75,000, so clinics that are cutting corners may only have one. This increases the chances that the instrument is used for a full day's worth of procedures and not properly sterilized between patients.
In addition, the microkeratome blade (not used in "bladeless" lasik), which cost about $50 apiece, are supposed to be replaced after each procedure with a new blade. Failing to do so increases the risk of infection in your eyes. You can see how costs for these blades would add up to substantial amounts, depending on the number of procedures the clinic performs on a typical day. A cost cutting clinic may use the same blade on multiple procedures.
Other Ways Laser Eye Clinics Can Cut Costs:
Some clinics may cut costs further by using not using machines approved by the FDA, inadequate staff training, using sub standard medical supplies, and even using medication such as eye drops past their expiration date.
None of the methods noted above would guarantee a sub standard procedure and/or result, but is it really wise to take that chance? Be sure to visit this page to find the best possible laser eye surgery clinic: Questions to ask your potential laser eye surgeon.
This may be the most important page on this site (and there are a lot of pages!). It is about our human need to "price shop". Getting the cheapest price possible. It's our duty as informed consumers to get the best deal, right? This may be fine if you're shopping for a plasma TV or some fabric softener, but please, consider more than price when getting quotes for laser eye surgery!
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