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The Eye Saga: Part 1 – Choosing the provider

December 26, 2013

Only I could have a series of posts entitled the Eye Saga. But my journey to vision correction truly has been just that – an epic story.

It started off with the massive rise in price of Canadian Pacific’s stocks. What better use of the money than to (finally) correct my vision? I’ve worn glasses since I was seven, contacts since Grade 10, and I’m currently sitting at a -7, -6.5 for contact prescription (for those of you with perfect vision – ENVY – this means that I literally can’t see the hand in front of my face without corrective lenses). Needless to say, I’ve had enough.

It was also partially prompted by my optometrist’s proclamation, after viewing the pictures of my eyes during my last visit, that I’d be an excellent candidate for surgery because my vision has been consistent for years and I have a thick corneal layer (if talk of parts of the eye bothers you, it’s probably best to stop reading now).

I started my journey in December 2012, deciding to visit two vision centres for assessment of suitability for correction: Gimbel Eye Centre and LasikMD. I chose these two due to their reputation and recommendations from others.

Gimbel was first. The entire process was quite good. You wait and they bring you in to do a few tests in a couple of different rooms. Afterward, you’re taken to a second waiting room to wait for an optometrist/opthamologist. S/he discusses your options based on results. And then you are shuttled to a third waiting room where you then speak to a counsellor and, possibly, book your surgery.

While speaking to the optometrist, she confirmed that, indeed, I do have thick corneas. However, I also have poor vision and somewhat steep corneas, which are risk factors for laser surgery. In short, I was a good candidate for most of the corrective procedures but not an excellent candidate for any of them. Due to this fact, and because I knew I had an appointment the following day at LasikMD, I did not book a surgery that day with the counsellor.

My overall impression of Gimbel was that the staff were well-trained and professional, it was nice to speak to an actual doctor, and there was absolutely no pressure to book an appointment for a surgery (although they did caution that if I took more than six months to decide, the tests would have to be repeated so that they were up-to-date before any surgery).

The next day, I went to LasikMD. There was a bit of a kerfuffle when reception had to come retrieve a clipboard and papers from me in the waiting room because it hadn’t been clear that they wanted me to return them, but no harm done. The tests done were similar to Gimbel – not quite as comprehensive. I was disappointed to find out that you didn’t meet with an actual doctor, just a technician, to discuss surgery options. I was told that I was an excellent candidate for LASIK – however, no mention of my thick corneas, which I thought would be a point of discussion since it’s vital to someone with my high prescription when it comes to the surgery, or the risk factors that come with my high prescription.

The part that I least liked about LasikMD was meeting with their counsellor. While I plainly stated that I was still assessing options and did not want to book a surgery, she insisted on booking me a surgery date on the spot and told me I could cancel at any time afterward. Which I did: the next day. The tactic felt like one during high-pressure sales, and I do not believe a decision such as this should be subject to coersion.

In the end, I decided to go with Gimbel for my vision correction for several reasons:

  1. Better technologies and a more comprehensive exam
  2. More options for vision correction
  3. The ability to see a trained optometrist/opthamologist during my visists
  4. A softer, gentler approach to making decisions
  5. Overall, better experience and more professional employees
  6. Experiences of family and friends have been more than positive

Just wait – Part 2 is when this story really gets juicy. Stay tuned!

Part 2 | Part 3

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