At Thanksgiving, the youngest of my three brothers,
Steve, told me he was thinking of undergoing LASIK.
Considering that Steve routinely wears his
soft contact lenses way past their lifespan, and he consistently rewets them by
popping them into his mouth, swishing them around for a second and reinserting
them into his eyes (despite horrified pleas from everyone to stop doing this),
he might benefit from LASIK. At least he wouldn't abuse his eyes so much.
The late adopters
As a 30-year-old single guy who has a good
disposable income, Steve definitely represents the largest and fastest-growing
category of potential LASIK patients � the late adopters.
Many O.D.s and M.D.s are betting on this
huge potential market of patients to send the numbers of LASIK procedures
Howard Gottlieb, O.D., president and CEO of
Eye Care Consultants Limited, a company that provides consulting and network
services, spoke about this influential category of people at the recent
American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting.
The market is shifting to late adopters, Dr.
Gottlieb says. These well-educated people are usually aged 30 to 50 and
represent 65% of all refractive patients, he explains. Also, they're more
affluent, and care about state-of-the-art equipment, convenience and personal
Basically, they want a high-touch, high-tech
experience at a good price.
Where managed care comes in
Needless to say, the competition is
clamoring to tap this huge pool of potential LASIK patients.
Advertising has become more aggressive and
corporate involvement is on the rise � even managed care is getting into the
How? Within the last few years, a definite
trend has emerged, says managed care expert Gil Weber, M.B.A. "We've seen
an increase in prominent vision care plans teaming with corporate LASIK vendors
to provide LASIK at a discount."
According to Weber, author of this month's
cover story, this trend "ultimately could exert profound, negative change
on the 'friendly' dynamic between O.D.s and several of the traditional vision
As far as comanagement of LASIK patients
under these discounted arrangements, continues Weber, "it isn't
necessarily clear how things will shake out over the next year or 2. Discounts
and enforced protocols may not be conducive to co-managing your patients."
more on this trend and its potential impact on co-management relationships read
page 26 of our magazine or look for �Blending LASIK With Traditional Vision
Plans� in our Current Issue Highlights.
Considering the uncertainty over whether
this trend will be favorable to those of you who co-manage, many of you may be
glad to know that Steve is staying with his contact lenses (hopefully, with
better care habits) � at least until presbyopia sets in.