At first blush,
Lasik "lifetime commitment", "20/20 or free", "acuity
warranty", or a "money back guarantee" type offer may sound
really good. It is reassuring to think that the doctor is so
certain of the outcome that such "warranty" is available. These
offers do have limitations and perhaps some surprises.
Outcome Never Guaranteed
All Lasik warranty plans offer a financial response or
additional care if certain goals and needs are not met, but
Lasik is surgery and no surgery has a guaranteed outcome. A
financial commitment from a doctor is not a promise of a perfect
Lasik Success Defined
Snellen 20/20 is a valuable measurement system, but it is not
the only consideration for quality of vision. As an example, a
patient may have 20/20 vision in daylight, but debilitating
halos emitting from light sources at night. A patient with
temporary Lasik induced dry eye may be 20/20, but only with the
regular use of expensive preservative-free eye drops.
And of course, what if the patient was 20/15 before surgery? Are
you "guaranteed" a reduction in vision quality?
As to the money back guarantee, we suggest you ask yourself
this simple question: "If the doctor screws up my eyes, is
giving me my check back the appropriate response?"
While it may be admirable for a clinic to want to provide
this level of care to its patients, the reality is that what
constitutes a lifetime may be a matter of contention. What
happens if the doctor dies? What happens if the company for
which the doctor worked goes bankrupt? What happens if the
publicly held corporation by whom the doctor was employed is
merged into another company that does not have a "lifetime
commitment" program? What if the doctor didn't have a "lifetime
commitment" program, but then started working for a company that
does? What if the patient moves out of the area?
New Technology & Techniques
And then there is the issue of what is included in the
"commitment"? Does this mean that no matter what new technology
or technique comes along the patient will receive this for free
for as long as the patient (and the doctor/clinic/corporation)
lives? It is reasonable to assume that advancements will make
whatever the patient had seem obsolete. One can hardly expect a
medical procedure to be exactly the same after 10-20-30 years.
Does the patient get the new procedure for free?
Natural Vision Changes
What about the natural changes that occur with everyone?
Refractive error can change. At around age 40, presbyopia makes
focusing on things near very difficult to impossible. Will the
patient receive surgery for presbyopia, if such surgery exists
at that time? Some "lifetime commitment" agreements require that
the patient be seen by a participating eye doctor every year or
so. Who pays for this exam? What if you skip a year?
Buyer Be Aware
Any long-term commitment a patient is able to receive has
value and is a sign of good faith by the Lasik provider.
Obviously these kinds of warranties may be of less value than
originally assumed and open up a lot of questions. This is an
area where one needs to read the fine print very carefully.
If you are ready to choose a doctor to be evaluated for conventional
RLE, or any
refractive surgery procedure, we highly recommend you consider
a doctor who has been evaluated and certified by the USAEyes
nonprofit organization. Locate a USAEyes Evaluated &
Lasik Laser Eye Surgery Doctor.
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