Yuma, Arizona (NAPSI) - More than 16 million people have benefited from LASIK eye surgery. If you or someone you care about would like to be among them, consider this: The first step is talking with a LASIK surgeon.

According to a recent survey by the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC), 80 percent of people who need vision correction are thinking about LASIK—but only 2 percent make their way into the surgeon’s office to find out if they’re good candidates for LASIK or if the safe and effective vision correction procedure is right for their vision and lifestyle.

Some people avoid talking to eye care professionals about LASIK because they’re not sure how to pick a surgeon or what to ask when they visit the surgeon’s office. To help, ARSC offers a few pointers:

• To pick a surgeon, check the Internet, the chamber of commerce, and medical organizations such as theAmericanAcademyof Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Get referrals from friends and family members who had the procedure. Ask them about their experiences. Speak with your personal physician and optometrist. Once you find a surgeon, get additional references from patients.

• Ask about the surgeon’s experience. The more, the better. A reputable surgeon should welcome any inquiries into his expertise. It is not uncommon for a highly experienced surgeon to have performed more than 25,000 procedures. He or she should also meet the highest standards for selecting patients—including screening out those who aren’t good candidates. That can be 15 to 25 percent of patients. Certain health issues, thin corneas and other factors may preclude the procedure.

• Choose experience over price. It is natural to want to get a good deal, but you can’t put a price on your vision and health. You should never feel pressured to have the procedure performed; a consultation shouldn’t feel like a sales process.

• Ask about technology. All LASIK surgeons don’t have access to the same technology. Not all practices invest in the most advanced equipment. To ensure that you’re getting the best care, you need to understand which LASIK technology is available and why a particular one is recommended for your vision correction.

• Be comfortable with your surgeon. He or she should be eager to answer all your questions and help educate you so you can make an informed decision. You should be made fully aware of the risks and benefits. Be wary of a practice that overpromises. LASIK is a terrific procedure but there are limits to what it can achieve. Remember that your eyes will continue to change as you age and you may still need reading glasses when you’re older.

If you’ve been thinking about vision correction options, you can get information to assist you with your decision at www.americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org.