Laser eye surgery comes under close scrutiny

More and more people are having laser vision corrective surgery (LASIK surgery) in the hope that their vision will be restored to such an extent that glasses will no longer be needed.

But now experts in the U.S. are calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn patients about the risks of the increasingly popular operation.

The surgery involves cutting the outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) with a fine blade, alcohol is then used to loosen and lift it and a laser beam is directed at tissue under the epithelium removing just enough to reshape the cornea which corrects the vision.

An expert panel of federal health advisers has heard accounts from LASIK patients and their families about severe reactions to the surgery which included on-going vision problems, severe dry eye, severe eye pain, blurred vision, glare, an inability to drive at night and even suicide.

As a result of the hearing the FDA has launched a new national study of patient outcomes, along with the National Eye Institute and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) in an attempt to compile more information on LASIK results.

The experts say the study will take years to complete so any information given to patients considering LASIK surgery should clearly warn of the possibility of long-term vision problems.

The FDA says it is concerned that doctors are not adequately informing patients about the potential risks.

Recent research suggests that 95% of all patients who undergo LASIK are satisfied with their procedure, but Dr. Jayne S. Weiss, who chaired the advisory panel says some surgeons could be doing a better job.

Experts recommend that both patient information and FDA's LASIK web site contain photos of potential vision problems so people have the opportunity to understand the risks and say more warnings are needed about the potential risks in women using hormone replacement therapy since the drugs can alter the cornea.

They have also called for more warnings for doctors who evaluate which patients may not be candidates for the procedure.

More than 700,000 U.S. patients each year have laser vision corrective surgery.


  1. Johhny Johhny Canada says:

    I had lasik surgery about a year ago through LasikMD in Canada. My results have been terrible, as a result of constant eye pain and blurry vision I have basically become a hermit... nothing is fun anymore, to visit friends is just too difficult due to the pain and the fact that my eyes are constantly red. The LasikMD staff have refused to give me any help. I beg anybody considering this procedure not to do it.

  2. Arnold Arnold Canada says:

    Lasik ruined my life! Money first, patient health be damned. I'll be on welfare soon because I can no longer work with the constant pain and lasik induced uncorrectable vision problems.

  3. Kate Kate United States says:

    I just wanted to throw my own comment out there among the naysayers. I've had LASIK done and so have a number of my friends and our lives are enormously better. Although I feel terrible for the issues other people have I think it's rather alarmist to say we should ban them.

  4. margaret margaret Australia says:

    I do not need glasses anymore, but I do still have horrible horrible glare under fluorescent lighting (I could never work with only fluorescent lighting).

    I do regret LASIK due to this and wish I had stuck with contacts.
    I was suicidal for many months after LASIK (due to the glare which was far worse then than it is now) and was on antidepressants.
    I still get down at times.

    I had LASIK done 11 years ago and have not been back for a eye check, since the surgeon gave me the all clear after LASIK and felt the surgery was a success.

    I know I should go back for a checkup and I will, but (and I know this sounds silly, but there was an episode of the Simpsons where Ned Flanders was in the future and walking around with a cane and was blind as a result of LASIK. The blindness did not show up till 10 years later.) So I found this thought, of a potential problem years down the track very upsetting and have not gone back.
    regrets and more regrets

    if you are happy with contacts, do not rush into LASIK.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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