How to select an Eye Care Specialist
Choosing a qualified eye care physician with the right credentials is critical to achieving a successful outcome. Perhaps you are looking for someone who will take the time to explain things on your level, has a great chair-side manner, current magazines in the waiting room, or even a sharp dresser. To others, training, reputation, and specialty are preferred criteria for selecting the right vision specialist. Some may even look for the most expensive surgeon, yet others look for the least expensive doctors. Whatever your criteria, iEnhance has put together a comprehensive list of physicians that can give you a head start on your search for the right vision correction specialists that meet your needs.
When considering undergoing laser vision correction or any vision correction procedure for that matter, you should select a qualified eye care physician to evaluate, diagnose, and superiorly perform the appropriate procedures. Like choosing other medical specialists it is a very individualized decision and one that should not be taken too lightly.
On a general basis there are two main types of eye care physicians, optometrists and ophthalmologists, each specialized and trained in different aspects of providing the best quality of vision for you, the patient. After reviewing our sections, you may want to work with a specialized ophthalmologist directly or work with a co-managing optometrist with whom you have entrusted your general vision needs over may years.
Whatever your decision, conduct additional independent research on each. Sometimes speaking to a patient or friend that has had a similar procedure performed can help you feel more assured of your own decisions. You may also check out the "My Story" section for personal experiences from patients that have had similar types of vision correction procedures. We have provided you with a list professional organizations at the end of this page to assist you in verifying the physicians credentials as well as a "Physician Locator" to help guide you to a well-trained eye care specialist that can be chosen by location, name, and experience, or by association affiliation, university affiliation, or laser center affiliation.
"What are some of the preliminary verifications I should make prior to scheduling a consultation?"
Verify that the surgeon is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology ("ABO"). ABO-certified physicians have graduated from an accredited medical school, completed one year of internship and three or more years of specialized medical, surgical and/or refractive training and had experience in eye care.
You can confirm a physician's Board certification by clicking to www.abms.org (American Board of Medical Specialties), selecting the "Who's Certified" button, then typing in the doctors name. The verification will tell you which board certified the doctor. Alternatively you may call the American Board of Ophthalmology at 610-664-1175.
Verify that the surgeon has had specialized training in refractive surgery. Not all Board-certified ophthalmologists are trained in laser vision surgery and other refractive surgical procedures. Also, it is important to ask how many procedures in which you may be considering that the doctor has performed in the past year.
Verify the education of the physician. Verify through the Liaison Committee on Medical Education www.lcme.org that the medical school listed by the physician is accredited. Your physician may also list membership in medical associations, academies or societies. You may want to contact the specific organization to inquire about its entry requirements (website address listed below).
Verify the physician is licensed to practice medicine in the state he/she is located. Contact the State's Medical Licensing Board. This number is listed in the State Government section of your phone book.
Check past or pending legal actions. Contact the County Clerk's Office of the county in which the physician has practiced or is practicing to verify court actions. Please use discretion.
Alternatively, you may use a Physician Credential Verification company to conduct the checks for you. iEnhance has partnered with www.SearchPointe.com to assist our users in verifying doctors' credentials. When in SearchPointe's home page, click on "Doctor Search", enter the search parameters and click "Search Now". Within a few seconds, SearchPointe will provide a free report that gives you the doctor's name, phone number, address, specialty, education, school and residency information. Then for a small fee, you can order a License and Sanction report on that doctor.
Additional things you may want to look for in an experienced refractive surgeon. Find out if the doctor has completed a fellowship program or a mini-fellowship program in corneal specialty. Is the doctor part of research teams in relationship to the types of procedures you are considering? Finding out if a doctor is reputable within his community of physicians can be a form of comfort and assurance for you. Is he published in his research areas or has he written for scientific publications? An additional source of comfort may come from finding out what avenues the doctor has written or lectured in (local, regional, national or international).
Some of these can be a simple call to the office manager of the doctor's practice you may be considering.
Once you've done all this and determined that the doctor you have in mind is competent and qualified you may go ahead and make a pre-screening appointment for laser vision correction or other vision correction procedures you are considering. In our next section, we'll talk about questions to ask your doctor once you've met face to face, and making sure that your expectations are realistic.
Ask the physician the following questions during your consultation. These questions are fairly standard, he/she should willingly provide you with answers. Please click on the "Questions for your eye care physician."
CAVEAT: Selecting a Board-certified physician assures you that a doctor has completed extensive training and passed rigorous examinations in his/her specialty. However, this does not guarantee that you will obtain the exact results that you desire. Carefully read about the procedure in our Procedures section, understand the risks associated with the procedure, talk to the doctor's past patients who have undergone the procedure, and perhaps obtain a second opinion from another doctor. In sum, thoroughly research the doctor and procedure before proceeding!
Click on the links below to verify the doctor's credentials:
http://www.lcme.org - Liaison Committee on Medical Education. This organization accredits medical schools in the US and Canada. Click on "Directory of Accredited Medical Education Programs" to verify the accreditation of your doctor's medical school.
http://www.abms.org - American Board of Medical Specialties. ABMS is the umbrella organization for the 24 approved medical specialty boards in the United States. From the homepage, select the "Who's Certified" button, then type the doctor's name. The verification will tell you which board certified the doctor.
http://www.abop.org - American Board of Ophthalmology - one of the approved medical specialty boards that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties. This is the board that certifies ophthalmologists. You may call the ABO to verify an ophthalmologist's certification status at 610-664-1175.
Other research relevant links:
http://www.ascrs.org - American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
http://www.isrs.org - International Society of Refractive Surgery.
http://www.lasikinstitute.org - informative and neutral research site LASIK.
http://www.asklasikdocs.com - informative and neutral research site.