I started wearing glasses in the 6th grade. My older brother had started wearing glasses not long before so for one reason or another I was kind of excited about getting my own glasses. Goodness, how the mentality has changed.
I just scheduled my Lasik appointment for this upcoming Monday, December 14th at LasikPlus Vision Institute. Over the past week I have visited four different clinics in the Cincinnati area:
All of these clinics were very friendly, helpful, and basically most everything you’d want when putting down a not so small sum of money for an “elective” surgery.
Why I’m going with Lasik instead of PRK
Before talking too much about the specific clinics, let me talk a little bit about my research and outlook on eye surgery. I did a good bit of research about the different types of eye surgery and basically narrowed my options down to Lasik and PRK. Although, I of course checked with my recruiter who in turn checked with the proper people to verify that I, as an Information Warfare Officer (candidate) in the United States Navy was eligible for the various types of eye surgery. All checked out and both Lasik and PRK are options for a person in my position. The basic difference between the two is how the surgeon gets to the part of the eye the surgery occurs. Wikipedia says it just fine, so here is their take on the difference between Lasik and PRK:
Because PRK does not create a permanent flap in the deeper corneal layers (the LASIK procedure involves a mechanical microkeratome using a metal blade or a femtosecond laser microkeratome to create a 'flap' out of the outer cornea), the cornea's structural integrity is less altered by PRK. The LASIK process covers the laser treated area with the flap of tissue which is from 100 to 180 micrometres thick. This flap can mute the nuances of the laser ablation, whereas PRK performs the laser ablation at the outer surface of the cornea. The use of the anti-metabolite mitomycin can minimize the risk of post-operative haze in persons requiring larger PRK corrections. PRK does not involve a knife, microkeratome, or cutting laser as used in LASIK, but there may be more pain and slower visual recovery. Unlike LASIK, PRK does not create the risk of dislocated corneal flaps which may occur (especially with trauma), at any time after LASIK. An evolved form of PRK is called No Touch laser vision correction. It also treats the surface of the cornea but unlike other techniques, requires no assistance from manual surgical instruments. It is the only technique to use exclusively an excimer laser from start to finish (via [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photorefractive_keratectomy](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photorefractive_keratectomy))
All in all, people typically get PRK because the tissue on their eye is not thick enough to safely create the flap for Lasik. Another reason is that the procedure is slightly safer due to not “digging” as deep. Post op, the military has said that the surgery is more resilient due to no flap being present on the eye. In very rare cases of head trauma, the flap created in Lasik has become detached, not a good thing.
Being a sky diver, scuba diver, pilot in training, among a general desire to try new things, I had my worries about this last difference of PRK and Lasik. I didn’t want a rough landing while sky diving to cause concern for added injury beyond what is already worried about. I also knew from following various eye surgery threads on AirWarriors.com that the Navy currently only waivers PRK applicants, although there is some sort of test group of Lasik aviators (I believe).
My main concern about PRK, however, was the recovery time. I was told that if there was any thoughts about enhancement surgery in the first year after the initial surgery, it would be considered until about 5 months after the initial surgery. This is due to the slower recovery time of PRK. I did not mind the lack of clear vision or the slight discomfort that was possible for the first week(s) after surgery if PRK was going to give me a better life long result, but if there was touch up work that needed to be done, we might have issues due to my schedule. I go to OCS in Newport, RI on August 1, 2010. This means that five months after initial surgery it will be mid May. And I need a six month window between surgery and OCS to be physically qualified after eye surgery. You seen my concerns?
All-in-all, after talking to doctors at all the clinics, none of them had any concerns that my lifestyle would cause any issues with regards to my Lasik surgery. They did, however, all say that PRK is, all things considered, a safer procedure and if people didn’t mind the recovery, they would recommend it for everyone. But the end vision result would be the same after either procedure. I thought about what they said and mulled it over, going back and forth, thinking about all scenarios. In the end, I decided that the assurance of results in my timeline really did outweigh the extremely minimal and practically non-existent added risk that Lasik had over PRK.
Why I’m going with LasikPlus Vision Institute
Now let me tell you my thoughts about the various clinics that I visited. I will talk about them in the order I visited, independently and then summarize at the end.
Midwest Eye Center
Midwest Eye Center was the quickest to send me information in the mail after I my request. I scheduled a time with them and went in the most blind as I had not talked to a doctor prior to this visit with regards to Lasik or PRK. I ran through minimal tests to ensure by eligibility, watched the Lasik video and then met with a doctor, Dr. Ralph R. Lim. He was previously with the Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base where he was Director of Ophthalmology Services. He was very quick but thorough with answering all the questions I had. I left feeling very impressed with their offerings. I was told that if I wanted to go with them, I would need to schedule another appointment where they could do a complete evaluation to make sure I was truly eligible (dilation and more measurements).
Price offerings: David M. Schneider, M.D. Advanced Custom Wavefront with Intralase: $4395.00 Advanced Custom Wavefront (OR PRK): $3995.00 Traditional Lasik with Intralase: $3595.00 Traditional Lasik: $2995.00
Ralph R. Lim, D.O. Ryan T. Smith, M.D. Advanced Custom Wavefront with Intralase: $3495.00 Advanced Custom Wavefront (OR PRK): $3095.00 Traditional Lasik with Intralase: $2895.00 Traditional Lasik: $2295.00
Enhancements: Discounted enhancements for the first 5 years
Dr. Schneider is their face on TV and the owner of the practice, so that is why he is more expensive. Even with the other two doctor’s experience, Dr. Lim told me that they were priced lower due to Dr. Schneider wanting to get them more experience. I personally would have felt comfortable with any of them doing my surgery.
Lasik Vision Institute
I had a little more knowledge going into Lasik Vision Institute. I went through the same screening as I did at Midwest, however, they were willing to do the full screening including the eye dilation. I unfortunately didn’t have the amount of time they required so kept with the same screening procedure that I went through at MidWest. One thing that irked me a little while there was that my prescription was measured at two completely different numbers. On one machine I was much more “blind” than the other. This threw the technician off and he wasn’t sure what to make of it, but once I met with the doctor, he assured me that the difference was likely to my youth, and I had strong muscles in my eyes that were “over-compensating” while adjusting to a blurry image.
One of the big differences about Lasik Vision Institute was that their surgeon is only on-site every other Friday. In his other time he works at a hospital.
Price offerings: Lasik Vision Institute prices by the prescription. The worse your sight is, the more expensive the surgery gets. It also sounded like this price was a bit negotiable. Custom Wavefront with Intralase or PRK: $2700 (after 10% military discount)
Enhancements: Benefit of Lasik Vision Institute is their Lifetime Warranty. Free enhancements for life that aren’t related to Presbyopia (reading glasses) as long as you go to an eye doctor every year and fax them the results. Then if you do need enhancements, you must pay a $99 fee for them to do an eye exam which may or may not be covered by your insurance.
I really did enjoy the people that were working at Lasik Vision Institute. He kept talking about being upfront and honest, almost to a point that made me cautious though. The cheaper price caught me off guard as well and I wasn’t too sure what to make of it.
LasikPlus Vision Institute
I had driven by LasikPlus Vision Institute many times. It is just down the street from my current apartment and they have a big eye ball in the glass of the office building. How cool is that?!?
Their office was very nice and this was the first place that I went through the entire screening process, eye numbing, dilation, and the whole 9 yards. Again I watched a video, basically the same as the previous two clinics and asked basically the same questions. By this point of my search, the routine was getting sort of automatic, not necessarily a good thing.
Price offerings: CustomVue IntraLase: $3,298.00 (after December discount which was about the same as their 15% military discount)
Enhancements: Free Enhancements for life, which seemed to be the same as Lasik Vision Institute. The main difference, however, is that LasikPlus does not require a yearly optometrist visit. They of course recommend you get a check up every year, but if you don’t, it will not void your warranty.
I left LasikPlus feeling rather neutral. They were on the pricey side, but they offered the better warranty.
Cincinnati Eye Institute
My Grandmother had had some work done at CEI before, and they are a gigantic clinic for both eyes and ears. It was quite the impressive practice they have set up in Blue Ash.
At CEI, I went through the motions again but this time had my fiance, Melissa, with me, as she wanted to learn more about the surgery. I got all the same measurements done and watched their DVD, same as before and then talked with the Doctor. After talking with the Doctor, I went and talked to their surgery scheduler lady. She talk about her experience with CEI and was very friendly (of course).
Price offerings: Global fee: -1.00 to -3.00: $2890.00 -3.01 to -7.00: $3290.00 -7.01 to -10.00: $3490.00 -10.01 and up: $3690.00 +anything: $3290.00 Custom Vuew LASIK/LASEK: $1000 IntraLase: $600
**And the lady was nice enough to call me her “family or friend” to give a big discount.**
**For me, the total came to:**
**PRK: $3140.00 Lasik: $3490.00 **
Enhancements: Within 1 year: No charge 1-2 years: $499 per eye 2-3 years: $999 per eye 4 years+: 10% discount
** **I enjoyed the people that worked at CEI very much. However, they didn’t offer much of a warranty and were quite expensive. Although it was after leaving CEI that I was feeling as though Lasik was really the better path for me to take.
The reasons I ended up scheduling with LasikPlus was the lifetime warranty and the fact that I felt more comfortable there over Lasik Vision Institute. My Mom is a teacher and was able to get a number of people from her school to respond to a request of opinions regarding where they had had Lasik done. From her query, it sounded like most of the people went to Midwest Eye Center with a few going to Cincinnati Eye Institute. I did take this into consideration, however, I heard no negative reviews. Really I would feel comfortable at any of the places I visited as they have done thousands of these surgeries before and really would not be in business any longer if things were not going well.
Whether it was the comfort of the chairs, the taste of the coffee, or something else, I really just felt more comfortable at LasikPlus. If something were to go wrong with the surgery, I would feel more comfortable knowing that I went to LasikPlus and didn’t cheap out at Lasik Vision Institute. I had heard talk about the laser that Lasik Vision Institute uses, something about it not being one of the “top three lasers”, but honestly I did not look into this much further.
I am very excited to have this surgery and see how the world looks unobstructed by glasses or contacts. After spending a much longer than expected time writing this book … I mean blog entry, I will have my new eyes in less than 24 hours. Hopefully those of you that might be searching for answers to Lasik or PRK in the Cincinnati, Ohio area will find some insight in my post. As much as I searched, I could not find too many reviews of any of the clinics around Cincinnati. I could have expanded my search to Dayton, however I feel very confident that I am making the right decision with the type of surgery and location.
I will follow up sometime post op with a follow up entry to talk about how it went and my initial reaction.
Ready, set, go!