Alison Hardie, Health Correspondent
Mon 6 Dec 2004
"Last year, the medical journal Ophthalmology said the failure rate for eye surgery was one in ten, not the one in 1,000 figure widely advertised.
The Medical Defence Union, Britain’s largest insurer for doctors, said negligence claims involving laser eye surgery more than doubled among its members since 1998. Which?, the organisation formerly known as the Consumers’ Association, has warned that people having the surgery are "gambling with their sight".
It found that some clinics did not highlight possible side-effects until after patients had signed up for treatment."
SMEARED VISION AND CHRONIC DRY EYE PAIN FROM CUSTOM LASIK DEVASTATES 21 YEAR-OLD
Another night indoors at apartment looking at a smeared TV set...and yet I can make out the letters on the TV just fine...most would say I have 'excellent vision' (as one neuroopthalmologist said)...if he was made to see like this he'd cry & scream bloody murder, & yet he makes & records comments like that...not much different than 9-10 months ago, when I spent my 21st bday 3days post-LASIK w/tremendous migraine headaches & a newly-smeared world, laying in bed w/compresses & closing my eyes trying not to look around...a pretty fun way to spend a 21st bday in a college town. They told me it would go away in a few days, then a week, then a month; that it was 'contrast sensitivity' and that it was perfectly normal; that there were 'frequently imperfections immediately following LASIK surgery'. (that everything being directionally smeared in the same direction in each eye was normal/ok/nothing to worry about!)
NEVER would I have imagined that nearly a year later I'd be worse - the vision would be the same (still uncorrected), I'd be out many thousands of dollars, that I'd spend all my time trying to get better completely futilely, that I'd have lost SO much time in my life & missed out on SO many experiences & that there would be NO end in sight, & that I'd soon develop eye pain (esp right eye) that would change my life even more.
Read these words from a physician who had LASIK last year
"I had "Custom Wavefront" LASIK on both eyes last January which puts me at about eight months. I have severe dry eye and had to have both my lower puncta cauterized three months ago. I've also developed erratic visual acuity and loss of contrast sensitivity; glasses and contacts can't help since refraction for me is a moving target. I also now have terrible accommodative dysfunction which no one seems to be able to explain. I guess this generates a lot of the eye pain that I experience.
I am in a procedure-intensive specialty and I have some knowledge of the informed consent. The consent form offered up by most refractive surgeons is a sorry document which is guided by legal standards and doesn't give the patient realistic information by which to make their decision. I fully believe that that constitutes malpractice in the setting of an elective procedure. There is also too much reliance on patient satisfaction surveys and not enough emphasis on real science.
Sure, if you were trying to market an expensive surgical procedure, glowing patient testimonials are better for the bottom line than evidence-based medicine. Not even a marketing 101 flunkie would submit a brochure which lists these real, possible outcomes...
- likely decrease in low light and night vision
- definite decrease in tear quantity and/or quality...no real way to estimate if
you will be symptomatic or not
- eye fatigue and/ or eye pain
- unpredictable quantities of metallic debris left behind
- permanent denervation or paresthesias of the cornea –retinal detachment or
ischemia during surgery
If I would have suspected that any of the above outcomes were possible, I'd be sitting here right now CLEARLY viewing my computer screen with my old trustworthy glasses on.
Sorry for the long rant..I'm having a particularly bad "eye day"today."
Refractive Surgery is a Crime:
"I genuinely believe that RS [refractive surgery] is a crime in its present form. LASIK maybe the worst of the offenders. It "cheapens" the field of medicine and is perpetuated by greed. I don't consider refractive surgeons colleagues...these people aren't healers. I've also given lots of thought on how to reach potential victims of the RS industry. At least patients deserve accurate information before making such a potentially life-altering decision."
Complications waiting to happen:
"It's frightening to think of all the potential complications which haven't yet happened. There are thousands of people out there who will follow you and I into the [complications] heap ... patients that the ophthalmologists would like to forget... patients marketing types don't even consider when pressing out their glossy brochures. I really feel for these unsuspecting myopes. I'd give almost anything to have it back, to be in the pre-surgical decision phase. Next best thing is to keep others from making the catastrophic mistake that I did."
Dryness and eye pain after LASIK:
"My conjunctivochalasis didn't exist to any degree before LASIK. With the severe dryness, my conjunctiva has thinned and degenerated and has now become an additional contributing factor to my eye pain."
"I'm still struggling with accommodation dysfunction and wild variance in acuity. Night driving is Hell. I've developed alternate routes to and from work based on day vs night driving. My night route puts me on the roads with the brightest street lights but is the least direct."
On anti-LASIK activism:
"Accidental altruism is what I call my experience. I couldn't save myself from the bad outcome, but I am determined to save others from it. I see that in you. Sure, everyone is angry with bad RS outcomes, but it is clear to me that what sustains your passion is altruism. The only way to avoid degraded low light vision, weakened corneas, and dry eyes is - "don't get LASIK!" If you bury this procedure, you'll have created more healthy eyes than a city of ophthalmologists."
His LASIK outcome:
"I was using drops as prescribed every 1-2 hours for the first month. At month two, I had severe eye pain, shitty vision, and accommodative dysfunction. My lame refractive surgeon and lamer yet co-managing OD said these were transient symptoms. At month six, they basically abandoned my case because the transient nature of my symptoms seemed more tenacious than they were able to deal with. I found a better OD who tried everything to help with my accommodation problems. Reading glasses just gave me horrendous headaches. (I love to read and this "benefit" of LASIK has caused me great hardship). His diagnosis was irregular astigmatism, accommodative spasm with gross refractive fluctuations as a result of dry eye.
Christmas is tough. I'm coming up on my year anniversary of the char and scar, sometimes referred to as LASIK."
”Any Ophthalmologist performing LASIK is unethical by reasonable standards”:
The medical board answers to no one.... the board's function is to monitor, review and police substandard care and non-professional behavior of the licensed physican. As a medical professional, I can assure you that your butcher's actions are unethical. Well, any ophthalmologist performing LASIK is unethical by reasonable standards."
Permanent eye strain after refractive surgery:
"I do find that eyestrain is now a way of life. The headaches get me down sometimes.The OR is brutal since the relative humidity is kept below 20% for infection control-so dryness is always an issue. I blast in a couple of drops of Freshkote before a case. My colleagues know about my ordeal with refractive surgery. I've managed to scare off a number of potential LASIK candidates who've asked if I was pleased with my results. My answer to that one usually renews their affection for their glasses or contacts."
A special place in Hell for refractive surgeons:
"I'm not religious by any means, but if there is a Hell, there is a
special place in it for Refractive surgeons. I've been trying to understand the phenomenon of LASIK surgery's tenacity despite all the clear indications that it should be abolished.
I believe that there are several key elements that refractive surgeons consciously or inadvertently exploit. First, we all hated our glasses and contact lenses. The promise of "perfect", unaided vision is so very seductive. The lure took away much of my objectiveness so I was hearing and reading only the propaganda and little of the real science. The dense marketing overwhelms the objective information on RS. Next, vision is poorly quantitated. Visual acuity is a subjective report by the patient..."yeah, one looks clearer than two...wait, let me see two again". No none really assesses how light is refracted by the anterior eye then interpreted by the retina and brain. The optics of the human eye are not static either. So the patient, ecstatic to be free of lenses, believes he or she is now seeing great just because the 20/20 line can be resolved without glasses. Never mind the loss of contrast sensitivity, loss of night acuity, loss of accommodation, corneal derangement, dry eye...........etc. Now you have a population of LASIK patients who want to believe their vision has been improved. They go on to be poster children for LASIK and tell their friends and the vicious cycle perpetuates. Those of us that get the complications are written off as unlucky bastards. Like the crazy aunt in the basement, no one wants to acknowledge us.
The FDA is not protecting the public from the refractive surgery industry:
The FDA is a joke. They obstruct good medications, devices and procedures and seem to bless the crap. Physicians on those panels are notoriously the bottom 5% of their medical school classes. Most couldn't critically read a peer reviewed journal if their lives depended on it. It may take a class action lawsuit to stop the butchering of eyes. [Deleted name of physician's lasik surgeon] is big here in [deleted city of surgeon's residence]...the TLC equivalent.
What about this- "LASIK special $499, red-tipped cane included!" Or maybe "LASIC- Lost Acuity Since I Came." It would get some righteous publicity.
Getting physicians to organize a campaign might be a start. Let's get the PhD's involved too.
I do have a wonderful wife who has helped me through all this. I don't think she can ever comprehend the magnitude of the damage LASIK has caused me. She has witnessed my decline into the darkest depression that I have ever experienced. I do understand what [deleted name of University of Michigan Psychiatrist who committed suicide in 2004 over his bad LASIK outcome] was dealing with. I believe that I came frighteningly close to his fate."
Lasik-damaged Physician contemplates life after LASIK:
"I was contemplating life in general today. It's amazing how drastically the LASIK has altered my life. I know you are experiencing that as well. I realize that for me, I'm waging two battles. The obvious one is the post-LASIK eye damage with all the associated treatments and daily misery. But possibly more debilitating is the way that this outcome has screwed up my psyche. At first, pure regret and anger wore me down until I was clinically depressed. Then medication helped me out of that dark state but I haven't yet regained my previous self. I still feel kind of dazed. Have you felt this? It seems everything about my daily experience has recentered on my eyes and vision. If my eyes feel better one day, it's a good day. If I'm seeing particularly bad one day, getting through a day is Hell. Every activity from reading to driving at night reminds me of what I once had but have no more. I hate having my mental state and moods hard-wired to my eyes...know what I mean?"
"You are more than welcome to use anonymous excerpts from my emails. If we can save a single potential LASIK victim, we've given someone an
invaluable gift for life."
On Glenn Hagele:
”One of the things that really irritated me about USA eyes and LME was that idiot Glenn Hagle (sp.?) What a bag man for the LASIK industry. He tries to come off as some patient advocate but he shamelessly promotes the butchers. His stupid disclaimer "I am not a doctor" at the end of every posting should read "I am not in any way reputable." Patients with real injuries are simply referred to the "links". I watched a long thread where some guy with serious complications was communicating with Glenn. Glenn's advice was so pathetically worthless. Those generic "links" and canned advice Glenn was touting were going to get him nowhere, and might delay some needed intervention. Turns out that the guy was sitting on an overlooked retinal detachment. NICE!"
On people who won't express dissatisfaction with bad LASIK outcomes:
"Too negative," now that's rich. Someone nearly blinds you, curses you with unrelenting eye pain, and robs you of essential tears and you are angry? I wouldn't pay much attention to the lemmings. After all, they dilute the visible dissatisfaction with the procedure which allows more victims to be injured."
On LASIK suicide:
"It really sucks about your friend's vision. Her dry eye sounds miserable too. I know that pain all too well. LASIK will not only damage your vision and ocular health, it can be poison to your psyche. Her suicidal ideations ARE scary. I was there once. Looking back, I was dangerously close. By telling you, she may be seeking help. I didn't tell anyone. If she gets silent about it, it's time to worry."
More on LASIK suicide:
"Wow, the suicidal times seem like a dream now (nightmare of course). I was really thinking about driving over to the [Deleted name of LASIK surgeon] clinic in the early AM hours, putting a sign on the windshield;
"NICE RESULTS [surgeon name deleted]", and blowing my brains out with a pistol. The media coverage would've dinged the bastard pretty good. I actually had the sign made. I came so close it now gives me the creeps to think about it. You are the only one I've told that to. I'm like you though. There is a threshold of debilitation above which I will not accept. That would be an unfair life sentence."
" I spent five months in the deepest, major depression. Only in the last month have I felt that I might not end up as a suicide statistic. There were many, many nights where I would lie down in bed at night, hoping for an arrythmia or ruptured cerebral aneurysm to keep me from waking up to another day. Every morning when I drove to work, I wished for a big truck to T-bone me in an intersection...living was certainly more painful than dying. I first though about inert gas asphyxiation with nitrogen, cheap, painless and easy. I thought about carbon monoxide but levels from new cars with catalytic converters isn't enough to give you more than a headache.
KCL, good if given through a central line, but caustic to veins...so you inject it in an arm vein and get pain and a quickly clotted vein. Later, I bought a gun, Glock 9mm. It was the knowledge that I would destroy my wife's life that kept me from aerating my skull. I was really messed up!
The one thing that the psychiatrists don't realize is that nothing follows you around like your vision. We are constantly reminded of the damage which wears your psyche down in the most effective, cruel way. It takes extra effort and strength to come up out of that type of depression."
On a movie theater experience after LASIK:
"My first post-LASIK movie experience sucked. I was in the nasty part of my depression and went to see that pathetic film "The terminal." The low light, ambient light aberrations were horrendous. I was so dizzy from them that I barfed thirty minutes into the flick."
On vision after LASIK and pain:
"My irregular astigmatism seems to be minimized when my eyes are moist with natural tears. If they are dry, my vision, day or night, stinks.
Night vision can be really bad with halos. Dryness also gives my a wierd haze during the day, as if I were looking through a glass of skim milk. The best artificial tears don't alleviate this regardless of how often I use them. Natural tears really resolve the haze. I still have constant eye burning, but it's now a 5 rather than myprior 9's. The accomodative spasm only occurs once a week or so, usually after reading or a demanding case at work. Reading glasses are a no-no. In an optimistic fugue a couple of days ago, I tried them on to read and was rewarded with a Godzilla of a headache and reallyblurred vision for about 24 hours."
After reading about what happened to this surgeon, do you still want LASIK?