Now we can all be a su­per­hero

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Laser Eye Surgery -

WHIP­PING off the coke bot­tle frames and hav­ing in­stantly per­fect vi­sion was once a priv­i­leged re­served for Clark Kent alone.

Now, laser eye surgery is bring­ing out the Su­per­man in a grow­ing num­ber of mere mor­tals.

While Mr Kent was in­dis­crim­i­nate about which phone booth he chose for the trans­for­ma­tion, those not from Kryp­ton should be a lit­tle more choosey.

Choice me­dia spokes­woman, Elise David­son, says it’s es­sen­tial for con­sumers to do their re­search be­fore se­lect­ing a sur­geon to per­form their laser eye pro­ce­dure.

There are es­sen­tially no na­tional bench­marks con­trol­ling the pro­vi­sion of laser eye surgery,’’ she says.

No for­mal post­grad­u­ate train­ing is re­quired for an oph­thal­mol­o­gist set­ting up to per­form laser eye surgery, and pa­tients are not re­quired to gain a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner’s re­fer­ral.

You should ask ques­tions and also get a cou­ple of opin­ions first,’’ Ms David­son says.

Check on the sur­geon’s ex­pe­ri­ence and how long they have been do­ing it for. It’s al­ways good to ask other peo­ple, or a GP to rec­om­mend a spe­cial­ist.’’

While re­search is needed, neg­a­tive re­sults from laser eye surgery are rare, ac­cord­ing to Ms David­son: ‘‘ Peo­ple are usu­ally pretty happy with the out­comes.

I haven’t heard too many bad sto­ries - it’s pretty amaz­ing surgery.’’

A re­cent Choice study found charges for laser surgery ranged from $ 1500 to $ 3700 per eye, with an av­er­age cost of $ 2500.

It does de­pend on where you go - that’s why we rec­om­mend get­ting a cou­ple of opin­ions,’’ Ms David­son says. ‘‘ It shouldn’t be some­thing that comes down to cost. The most ex­pen­sive is not nec­es­sar­ily the best sur­geon.’’

Cost dif­fer­ences can also be re­lated to the types of fol­low- up care of­fered. Some sur­geons only per­form the op­er­a­tion and leave the af­ter- care to their as­sis­tants:

This is not nec­es­sar­ily a prob­lem though,’’ Ms David­son says. They might be well- trained, but it’s good to find out so you know what to ex­pect.

The clinic should in­form you com­pre­hen­sively about what’s go­ing to hap­pen on the day of the surgery and af­ter­wards.

Ask ques­tions and read all the ma­te­rial you’re given.’’

For Medi­care pur­poses, laser eye surgery is con­sid­ered a cos­metic pro­ce­dure - an op­tion for those who choose not to wear glasses.

Medi­care does not, there­fore, pay any ben­e­fits for most laser surgery, ex­cept if re­quired to treat cer­tain eye dis­eases.

Sim­i­larly, few health funds cover laser eye surgery for vi­sion cor­rec­tion.

For tax­a­tion pur­poses, how­ever, the surgery is not re­garded as purely cos­metic. It is con­sid­ered as some­thing which changes the func­tion, rather than ap­pear­ance of eyes, and is claimable un­der the med­i­cal ben­e­fit tax off­set.

David­son rec­om­mends con­sumers keep the fol­low­ing ques­tions in mind when se­lect­ing a sur­geon and clinic: ● Does the sur­geon hold an aca­demic ap­point­ment? This in­di­cates the sur­geon is ac­tively in­volved in re­search or teach­ing and is ex­posed to peer re­view. ● What is the sur­geon’s ex­pe­ri­ence with cor­rect­ing the type and de­gree of your re­frac­tive er­ror? ● What’s the de­gree of the sur­geon’s in­volve­ment pre- and post- op­er­a­tively? ● How do they track their sur­gi­cal out­comes and how do th­ese com­pare with oth­ers? ● If you wear con­tact lenses, ask for how long you shouldn’t wear them be­fore the as­sess­ment. ● Does the price in­clude check­ups and, if nec­es­sary, en­hance­ment pro­ce­dures? ( Th­ese are fur­ther op­er­a­tions that may be nec­es­sary if the first pro­ce­dure leaves the eye over- or un­der- cor­rected).

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