My Lasik experience started in 1998. I'd been hearing about Lasik surgery for some time, and after wearing thick glasses for thirty years, I decided to look further into laser vision correction. In March, 1998, I went for my initial consultation at Nevyas Eye Associates in Bala Cynwyd (Philadelphia area), Pennsylvania. They were advertising extensively (for Lasik...with a laser under an IDE (Investigational Device Exemption) - Please see the Nevyas Eye Associates section of this site). At over four hours, the pre-op exam seemed very long, but was not complete, due to my prior history of 'retinopathy of prematurity' or ROP (I was born two and one-half months early, and received too much oxygen in the incubator, thereby damaging some retinal nerves). Anita Nevyas-Wallace, the doctor (who performed my Lasik surgery) stated she foresaw no problems and thought me to be a good candidate. Two weeks later, my initial evaluation was complete, and I was reassured I was to be a "good candidate" for this Lasik procedure. I was NOT told that a change in prescription gave me better than the 20/50 Best Corrected Visual Acuity (BCVA) I ever had, and that instead of the Lasik, the new prescription would have worked just as well if not better than what I was seeing (refracted to 20/40 -2 according to their records).
Because of the ROP, Dr Nevyas-Wallace sent me to see a retinal specialist in their own group to determine whether this would cause any problems in connection with Lasik. I was told there would be no contraindications (problems), and again was reassured that it would be okay to have surgery. I did not ever expect to have 20/20 vision, and was happy with the 20/50 (or maybe a line better, 20/40) prediction the doctor assured me, since the 20/50 was my best correction with glasses. I was elated at the thought of not having to wear glasses anymore, and with the very promising outcome predicted, and being told several times I was a good candidate, decided to have surgery.
Two weeks later, I had surgery on my left eye, and a week after that, on my right eye. The day after, looking through the plastic shield was probably the best vision I ever had in each eye without glasses, but during the daytime only, and did not last. My night vision was filled with halos, starbursts, glare, and ghosting. My vision was still way off, and fluctuated severely, depending on light levels. I was told that as my corneas healed, my vision should improve, and the severe night problems would stop, usually in about three to six months. Later I was told this could take up to one year. After the first year, the doctor just kept adding on time, finally stating the problems I was experiencing could be permanent. Almost seven years later, I still have these same problems.
At one day post-op and four days post-op, each cornea looked okay according to the doctor, but I was still experiencing problems. About two weeks after surgery, I was fitted for soft contacts to determine whether the problems could be eased while my eyes healed. I went through three different prescriptions in as many months. The third month, I was fitted for gas-permeable hard contact lenses, because of continued problems. Consequently, I decided to see another ophthalmologist for another opinion, as I was getting more and more upset with the way I was seeing and what I was being told.
This is my nineteenth visit since my initial consultation five months ago. These visits have been averaging between two to eight hours, with about 15-20 minutes with the surgeon. Yes, I'm getting more frightened by now, especially after hearing what my second opinion doctor told me, that he could not help me get my vision back to what it was prior to Lasik. After five more visits, the surgeons at Nevyas Eye decided that the problems were retinal due to the ROP.
After three more months and three more visits, the doctors were unable to help me. More gas perms and the same results, So I went to another specialist, this time at Wills Eye Hospital, and they couldn't help me either (and that's number twenty four!).
In July '99, Dr. Herbert Nevyas, the doctor who runs the laser center (Anita's father) I went to told me "Deal with it...People lose their sight every day...I'll see you in 8 months" (as I stated in depositions)...I was livid!
1999 brought even more distressing results. Five more retinal evaluations, three more corneal evaluations.
The following month, I had a low vision evaluation. My prescription was changed again, but not with better results. I then ventured to John Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore. After seeing several world renowned specialists, I still could not get any help for my post-Lasik eyes. After another visit to the laser center where I had surgery, and another visit to a low vision specialist, it was decided that glasses and contacts would not work. I was fitted for bioptic and mirage lenses. How fitting it is to have Lasik surgery and not be dependent on glasses (due to the fluctuation of vision and constant focusing of these glasses, they were essentially useless)! How I looked like a freak with these things on, and boy, how people stare at what they do not understand!
Two more visits and I ended the year 1999. How pathetic this is...over eighteen months and thirty four visits to doctors and hospitals, and still nobody was able to help me. I was determined to find somebody who could help my post-Lasik eyes and get my vision back to where it was prior to Lasik. I know that something happened, because I did not have these problems prior to Lasik.
In 2000, things did not get any better. Same problems, no help for my vision. Again I ventured back and forth between doctors still seeking to get my vision back prior to Lasik. Eight more visits to end the year, for a total of forty six visits to different doctors and hospitals. Nobody was able to help me.
I am pretty much done with the doctors now, because NOTHING CAN BE DONE. I've had three visits in 2001, and five in 2002. Of the visits in 2002, I saw Dr. James Salz in California (who afterwards became one of my experts for my medical malpractice lawsuit), one of the (if not THE) foremost authorities in this field. Another top Doctor I saw was Dr Terrence O'Brien at John Hopkins. Bottom line is after reviewing ALL of my records since having had Lasik, I cannot be corrected because some of the damage was due to increased pressure from the suction cups used to lift the corneal flaps. Dr. Salz stated I SHOULD NOT HAVE EVER BEEN CONSIDERED A CANDIDATE FOR LASIK and submitted to my attorney many reports.
I can only hope and pray that somebody out there will be able to help us, and if you're still not convinced of the risks:
Other horror stories: www.surgicaleyes.org, www.lasikdisaster.com, lifeafterlasik.com, www.lasiksos.com,www.lasikcourt.com, www.lasikmemorial.com, which are listed at http://www.escrs.org/eurotimes/March2003/primesite.asp also, as well as many others. There are casualties out there who have not posted sites, as well as many others who were offered out of court settlements, and not brought their cases to light due to confidentiality.