Lasik Eye Surgery: Weighing the Pros and Cons
To the Editor:
“Lasik’s Risks, in Focus” (Science Times, June 12) implies that there are emerging doubts about Lasik eye surgery’s safety and efficacy. We believe that such arguments are without scientific foundation and do a disservice to Lasik surgeons and the more than nine million Lasik patients in the United States.
Lasik’s safety and efficacy are well documented by scientific literature; more than 7,000 studies have been done.
While no surgery is without risk, Lasik is an outstanding procedure for those who are good candidates. That in no way diminishes the experience of those featured in your article.
The article concludes by saying patients need to understand the risks. Counseling from qualified, board-certified surgeons is the way to achieve that.
We remain committed to providing patients with evidence-based, safe, effective clinical options that will improve their quality of life.
THOMAS W. SAMUELSON
The writer is president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
To the Editor:
As an ophthalmologist, I have seen plenty of unhappy patients who are indeed not informed of the permanent side effects of Lasik.
Furthermore, nearsighted patients over 40 who can read without glasses are often not told that they will need reading glasses after Lasik, which understandably infuriates them, as they ended up paying $5,000 for the procedure only to have to replace their distance glasses with reading glasses.
I have also seen many cataract surgery patients unhappy with their premium multifocal implants, and again they claim that they were not told of the possible drawbacks. Some are even pressed to pay for laser cataract surgery, at about $2,000 out of pocket per eye, as a superior option compared with traditional surgery, when that is patently untrue.
Lasik and multifocal implants can be wonderful, and the vast majority of doctors are honest, moral and good people, but I always advise patients to do what I do: Get a second opinion, and make sure that the doctor is told emphatically that he is being consulted only for an opinion. This way, you are more likely to get an unbiased opinion.
ARI WEITZNER, NEW YORK
To the Editor:
I had failed Lasik surgery in 2001. My ophthalmologist said new software had been developed to prevent any problems and charged me $4,000 to correct my severe astigmatism. Since that day 17 years ago, I have had to live with severe visual discomfort and poor vision.
Immediately after Lasik, I had extreme light sensitivity, double vision and distortion, halos and sunbursts. I have had to use artificial tears constantly. My eyes were never dry before the Lasik.
Although my doctor saw that my vision was terrible, she would not admit that Lasik had caused it. I sought help from other doctors in the area, and none would speak of the Lasik damage to my cornea. It was only when I moved to another state that I was told that my cornea was damaged from Lasik.
Expensive Lasik was being sold like hot cakes for years, and many patients were being harmed. No one did anything about it. The Food and Drug Administration should withdraw approval of the procedure.
BARBARA ADAMS, CHEVY CHASE, MD.