Thinking About Lasik? The Risks Are Painfully Real

Patient advocates complain not enough warnings are given on complications that can be severe
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2018 7:17 AM CDT
Thinking About Lasik? The Risks Are Painfully Real
In this Nov. 1, 2005, file photo, a doctor flattens the cornea of a patient during eye surgery in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The promise of Lasik is it may offer an end to contacts and glasses; the reality is that it could lead to problems that may leave you longing for the old contacts and glasses. The New York Times reports on long-documented complications—including post-procedure complaints of double vision, painful dry eyes, seeing starbursts, and light sensitivity—from the popular laser eye surgery that first got the FDA's OK in the '90s, and how despite these issues, Lasik (aka laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) continues to get ophthalmologists' enthusiastic seal of approval. A good number of doctors, in fact, say the 15-minute surgery is the safest medical procedure of any out there, and that complications that do arise often fade away after a few months. Plenty of people have been convinced: Some 700,000 pairs of eyes went under the light in 2017, per an ophthalmic market research firm.

But some say patients aren't given enough warnings about possible complications, and few studies have followed up in the long term. Cases go back a decade documenting patients with pain, discomfort, and impaired vision so bad it has led to mental health issues, job loss, and even suicides. One former Lasik patient who says the procedure ruined her eyes started, which lists possible side effects and warnings from those who've had the surgery. Patient advocates say the FDA itself should be doing more to warn potential recipients. Meanwhile, some patients are distraught over not having done more due diligence. "I go to sleep at night beating myself up about it, thinking, 'Why did I not at least Google the possible side effects and complications of Lasik?" laments one. "I do that when I buy a car." More here. (A Reddit founder prepped for doomsday by getting Lasik.)

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