Around ten million Americans have undergone LASIK eye surgery.
Most people are satisfied with the results but when the surgery goes wrong, it can be devastating.
Just last year, mother-of-two and meteorologist, Jessica Star, underwent SMILE surgery to have her vision corrected. It is a similar but less invasive procedure.
But after a month, she had committed suicide as she ‘struggled’ to recover from the surgery. While complications are rare, it can include excruciating pain, hindered eyesight and visual ‘ghosts.’
28-year-old Colin also committed suicide after living with excruciating pain for almost seven years. The suicide note found next to his body read: “If I cannot get my eyes fixed, I’m going to kill myself.
“I just cannot accept the fact that I’m supposed to live like this. I have other problems like most people do. But this is something else. As soon as my eyes went bad, I fell into a deeper depression than I had ever experienced, and I never really came out of it.”
Dr. Morris Waxler, former FDA adviser who voted to approve LASIK, and optometrist Dr. Edward Boshnick, said to CBS that the procedure should be pulled from the market.
In LASIK eye surgery, a small flap is cut into the cornea and is slightly raised to change the way the light is refracted to make up for farsightedness or nearsightedness that occur when light does not hit the right spot of the retina.
Glasses and contact lenses also do the same thing but LASIK offers convenience.
Abraham Ruter said to CBS News that his vision and life were destroyed after LASIK surgery. “It’s a devastation I can’t even explain,” he expressed.
The changes to his cornea resulted in a more intolerable set of problems. “Things would appear double. Around the lights were like having starbursts.”
After only a few months of these problems, Rulter said he couldn’t make it anymore as his eyes were making driving and making his work next to impossible.
Dr. Boshnick examined Rutner’s eyes and found the surgery had wreaked havoc. “His cornea is very distorted, as a result of his LASIK surgery,” he told CBS.
Former FDA adviser Dr. Waxler said that when he voted for the approval of LASIK surgery in 1996, he was under pressure and didn’t know patients who had suffered devastating consequences of the procedure.
Dr. Waxler told Daily Mail: “[The] FDA is a semi-military organization, and I was the lowest ranking “officer”, a science-manager of a team tasked with reviewing applications from manufacturers of LASIK devices.”
He helped create a regulatory framework for the LASIK devices but now says those should be removed from the market.
“I was aware of the high (10-20%) complication rates of distortion, discomfort, and disorders caused by LASIK, and attempted to include these rates in the patient information brochures, which was overridden by superiors,” he added.
“I wish I had had the opportunity to meet LASIK patients a year or two after surgery, then I might have appreciated their suffering.
“Instead I relied on corneal refractive surgeons description, which minimized complications.”
But according to the FDA’s recent study, 95 percent of patients are happy with the results of LASIK surgery.
While most doctors warn that not everyone is a good candidate for the operation, Dr. Waxler said: “No one is a “good” candidate, when the alternatives are glasses and contact lenses and when the complications are 10-30 percent six or more months after surgery.”
“Some particular complications may be rare: suicides due to intractable pain (I know of ten); suicidal threats (I know of four); bleeding to death (I know of one); bilateral corneal transplants (I know of one),2 he said.
“LASIK’s high complication rate is a necessary consequence of the surgery. Surgeons cannot make a flap and a divot in human cornea without causing distortions in and under the flap.
“Surgeons cannot perform LASIK surgery without cutting nerves responsible for corneal sensation and controlling tearing, therefore dry eyes, discomfort, and intractable pain occur.
“Other disorders are a necessary consequence of high intraocular pressure and shock waves that occur during LASIK surgery.”
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