The daily paper "DIE WELT" reports, presently there are about 5.000 federal citizens travelling abroad for LASIK-surgery every year. The lower costs of surgery have been stated to be the major reason. An increasing number of patients has to count the cost for that initial bargain: according to the reports of German eye specialists, who perform follow-up treatments, the rate of complications abroad is about ten times higher. Those are for example wrinkle formation on the cornea, glare effects and over- or undercorrection in consequence of false measurements prior to the procedure. The vast majority of complications could have been prevented by diligent consultation and pre-examination as well as by strict compliance with the indication.
Indeed, at first view, costs abroad appear compelling: 1.000 to 1.500 Euro for LASIK-surgery on both of the eyes, including flight, travel assistance and accommodation in a double room. In many cases the surgeons are experienced and utilise modern devices. Problems, however, are mostly of a different kind. Can the patient be sure to properly understand the examining physician, resp. is the doctor able to answer all questions sufficiently? How does the patient convey his or her expectations? What about the clarification and suitability? Are alternatives offered, in cases of borderline defective vision? What about the pee pressure opposed by the tour group? Once arrived, one really does not want to depart again without lasered eyes.
By way of comparison: Many laser centres in Germany offer non-binding information evenings, at which procedures are thoroughly described and questions are answered. With responsible surgeons the time period between pre-examination and actual surgery can be at least one or even two weeks, giving the patient enough time to ponder, after counselling. This shows very plainly that: the communication with the patient is just a relevant instrument to a good refractive surgeon as the laser itself and the sterile surgery.
Not least: While, due to regulatory supervision, no German provider can afford to give false particulars on devices, numbers of surgeries and the results of surgeries, abroad those factors are almost impossible to review for patients.
November 16, 2005 - ZDF.reporter:
Cheap-Medicine abroad: Eye-Laser-Surgery in Istanbul - Saved on the wrong things
August 2, 2005 - DIE WELT:
Eye specialists caution against laser surgery abroad
April 26, 2004 - Bayerischer Rundfunk:
Consultation hour - Eye laser surgery in the Czech Republic and Germany. Medical Tourism to Eastern Europe