Now we can all be a superhero
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).