If you’ve seen or heard any advertising for LASIK recently, the deceptive claims by marketers may have confused you about the truth. Here are some very common games and gimmicks that LASIK providers use to get patients in the door, but wind up giving them less than what they bargained for.
Bait and Switch
Many discount LASIK centers use a “bait and switch” technique to lure patients. They may advertise LASIK for $299 or some other deeply-discounted price. But they know full well that when you arrive at the office their primary objective is to upgrade you to a significantly more expensive surgery that would be more appropriate for your needs. The $299 procedure is typically an outdated procedure on an older laser platform and one that has a higher risk of adverse outcome than the higher priced procedure. The fact that these centers will render care that they know to be inferior and more prone to complications is offensive and constitutes an unethical, unprofessional and irresponsible medical practice.
At Will Vision we only provide leading edge technology with the safest and most accurate outcomes for every patient and we strive to make those advanced laser eye surgery procedures affordable for everyone.
You only have one set of eyes. If you’re unable to afford the best and safest procedure then you would be better advised to wait until you can, than to risk your future and your vision to a more risky alternative today. You also may be surprised at, with the new financing programs available today, how truly affordable the best really is.
Another common tactic to increase LASIK profitability is the practice of using tiered pricing. Most often centers that use multiple package pricing will offer three pricing tiers, although more creative business models may include even more. These various LASIK packages are then “sold” to potential patients using sales personnel that receive a bonus or commission when patients select the highest priced packages.
In general, the bottom tier will include the use of the mechanical microkeratome and an older excimer system that employs non-Wavefront technology, or may or may not even have an eye tracker. The highest tier is typically a combination of leading edge technologies such as Wavefront guidance and Intralase, although in some of these centers the highest priced tier is not even the safest or most precise procedure available.
Basically, in this scenario, the patients are left to ask themselves “Am I feeling lucky today?”. If the answer is yes, they may elect to choose the lowest pricing tier, gambling that they will have a successful outcome without sustaining the adverse events that are more common with these older surgical methods.
A surgeon should use only the best procedure available to them. If they cannot provide the best and safest for every patient then they should simply not perform that particular surgery on any patient. Electing to apply a surgical method that the surgeon knows carries a higher risk for a poor outcome when better technology is readily available is both unethical and irresponsible.
At Will Vision we have one price and one procedure – Custom Wavefront Guided Intralase – without question the most advanced and safest procedure available. Don’t settle for anything less.
Another common mantra amongst LASIK centers is the notion of “Matching the laser to your eyes”. Although this idea may sound plausible to the average consumer, this statement has virtually no scientific merit whatsoever and is at best misleading.
Fundamentally, the most important factor in providing excellent surgical outcomes is to match the patient with the best laser technology possible. That technology includes such things as accurate Wavefront measurement, Fourier analysis for more precise wavefront reconstruction, iris recognition and registration for precise control over laser pulse placement, Femtosecond laser technology to ensure precise and consistent flap creation and active eye tracking to control for inadvertent eye motion intra-operatively to name just a few of those factors.
When equipped with the correct constellation of these technologies, all of the most sophisticated lasers will provide all of the patients treated on them with the best possible outcomes. Conversely, all of those lasers that do not have these advanced features will, in general, provide all of the patients treated on them with potentially suboptimal outcomes. In view of that information, we must ask ourselves the question of “what particular medical criteria are used to “match your eyes to the least sophisticated laser systems” With few exceptions, no such medical criteria exist.
In reality then, those centers that suggest that they “match the patient to the laser” most often match the patient to the laser that is within that patients budget. It’s a game of matching the size of the patient’s wallet to the sophistication of the laser platform. Patients that can only afford the lowest price tier will be matched to the laser system that is the least expensive for that center to operate (which is typically the oldest and least sophisticated device) while those that can afford to purchase the highest tier package will be matched to the most expensive and most sophisticated laser combination.
At Will Vision, we believe that every patient deserves the best possible vision. That can’t be accomplished by using deceptive mind games but rather by matching every patient with only the most advanced, safest and most accurate laser technology available. Come visit us today and See the Difference.
Surgeon experience is a factor that can dramatically affect your visual outcome. You may find centers that advertise that they have performed more than 100,000 procedures. In general, this is the total number of procedures performed by all surgeons employed by that corporation and tells you nothing with respect to either the experience or talent of the surgeon that shows up on the day of your surgery.
Under these circumstances, the most important questions are: How many of this exact procedure has MY surgeon actually done? Have they even performed Custom IntraLASIK before?
Dr. Will has been performing Custom Wavefront Guided IntraLasik longer than any other surgeon in the area and he is the most experienced IntraLASIK surgeon in the entire Pacific Northwest. He is the only surgeon that will be performing your procedure. We love what we do and we work hard to be the premier IntraLASIK center in the Pacific Northwest.
Another tactic used by some discount LASIK centers is to attempt to lure you with a low LASIK price but what they actually attempt to do is to separate the total cost for the procedure up into small pieces and then only advertise the cost for a portion of the whole package.
If you’ve ever purchased a computer and thought you were getting a good price until you started to see all of the add-ons and extras you’ll know what this “game” is about. With the extended warranty, upgrades, extra cords and software you’ll likely end up paying significantly more for your computer than you bargained for.
In LASIK, there are many variations on this theme but it frequently involves additional charges for postoperative care, extended warranties for enhancements, upgraded lasers, eye drops or even punctal plugs.
At Will Vision we won’t offend you with unbundled LASIK fees or inflate our fees to nickel and dime you. We offer one complete procedure for one comprehensive price and we are there to take care of you postoperatively whether you need a little care or a lot.
Punctal Plugs and Dry Eye
A specific variation on hidden charges that some centers employ is the widespread use of punctal plugs for dry eye. These plugs are inserted into the patients tear ducts to block the drainage of tears from the eye. Such centers will often insist that all patients undergoing LASIK should have punctal plugs inserted. In such cases, the charge for the insertion of these punctal plugs is often passed on to the patient or the patient’s medical insurance plan. This practice is problematic from two independent perspectives.
Any patient that undergoes LASIK should be concerned about dry eyes after surgery. This is particularly important because the use of older technology in the past has resulted in a small percentage of patients dealing with persistent dry eye symptoms today. Unfortunately, some of that older laser technology is still being used today at some centers. As a result, those centers do have a measurably higher rate of dry eye than can be obtained today with more advanced techniques.
However, with the use of newer technologies such as Intralase, dry eye is very rare. With the Intralase, the majority of corneal nerves are preserved because of the ultra thin flaps it can create. This is further enhanced by the lateral hinge orientation I use. As a result, the typical dryness experienced during the healing period following IntraLASIK is minimal and long-term dryness is extremely rare. As a result, in my practice, in the vast majority of patients, the use of punctal plugs is completely unnecessary.
Centers that choose to charge ALL patients or a majority of patients for punctal plugs may be using older technology that is much more prone to severe dry eye complications. On the other hand, they may be simply inserting plugs into many many patients that have no need for them.
Although inserting punctal plugs, including temporary plugs, is generally a minor procedure it is not completely risk free. As a general rule, one should never subject oneself to any medical procedure that is not needed. If you have dry eye and punctal plugs are medically indicated, then their insertion is appropriate. However, probing the delicate tear ducts in the eyelid can damage that tissue and cause permanent scarring. In addition, without proper drainage the tears can pool in the eye and create irritation or increase the risk of infection. As a result, the practice of inserting punctal plugs without a clear medical indication is unwise.
At Will Vision, dry eye following Custom Wavefront guided Intralase is very rare. However, if punctal plugs are needed we simply insert them at no extra charge.
Our goal is to provide the best care possible for each patient. That means using state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted dry eye problems, using medical alternatives to treat dry eye that does not involve invasive probing of the tear duct system and using punctal plugs only when medically indicated.