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Helping Patients Choose A Refractive Surgeon

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

LASIK surgery is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Last year, more than a million procedures were performed and more than 1.6 million are expected this year.

Tyrie Jenkins, M.D., accomplished Hawaii ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, has worked in laser refractive surgery since its infancy, performing Hawaii's first LASIK (Laser In Situ Keratomileusis) procedure in 1997.

She participated in the national study that led to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and has remained in the forefront of refractive technologies, performing thousands of procedures. Not only is Dr. Jenkins one of the nation's top refractive surgeons, she has experienced first-hand what it is like to be a LASIK patient.

"The key to safe, successful surgery in any field of medicine is an informed patient with realistic expectations and a skilled, experienced surgeon," says Dr. Jenkins. "Take the time to research not only the procedure, but also the surgeon and the laser center you are considering for correcting your vision."

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Dr. Jenkins performed LASIK on her daughter, Annie Hiller, this month. The experience has prompted the surgeon to remind people looking into LASIK to consider carefully the process for finding a good physician.

Dr. Jenkins recommends that refractive surgery candidates do their homework -- ask family and friends, talk to an optometrist or ophthalmologist they trust, and look online.

"Many surgeons and laser centers advertise," says Dr. Jenkins. "Beware of the hard sell and discounters who lack the credentials."

Studies show surgeons experience a learning curve with the LASIK procedure and the more experienced a surgeon is, the fewer complications. Other elements to look for when choosing a refractive surgeon include benchmarking, success and complication rates, certifications and awards, equipment, and personal compatibility.

"Personal chemistry can make a difference in your experience with any type of surgery. You should choose a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable. Your surgeon should listen closely to what you want and be willing to take the time necessary for you to understand the procedure," says Dr. Jenkins.