The FDA has received persistent complaints about outcomes and “quality of life” following LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery. Even though the total number of patients reporting problems is relatively low, about 5% one has to keep in mind that reporting rates of complications resulting from a variety of medical causes such as drug reactions, etc. is less than 10%. Even without taking this into account, with 750,000 procedures annually in the U.S. (13.5 million procedures total performed in the U.S., and only 16.3 million worldwide!) the total number reporting problems amounts to 675,000 patients.
Complaints reported include poor distance vision, dry eye, redness and pain, glare, and halos. According to the JAMA, Dec. 9, 2009, advocacy groups opposing LASIK surgery have added other complications, including depression and suicide ideation.
See LASIK Surgery watch for discussion of other potential problems with LASIK surgery that are becoming the source of controversy among ophthalmologists. Among these are problems with accuracy of intraocular pressure (IOP) measurements used routinely to screen for glaucoma. “Permanent changes in corneal thickness and biomechanical properties following LASIK result in inaccurate IOP measurement, exposing patients to risk of undiagnosed glaucoma and associated vision loss.” Also mentioned is the problem of measuring the corneal surface in cataract surgery to calculate the power of in intraocular lens implantation.(IOL). Changes to the cornea after LASIK can cause inaccurate measurement of IOL power, which may result in a poor visual outcome after cataract surgery.
In May of this year the FDA and CDC began reviewing reports of fungal keratitis-a serious infection which can cause destruction of the cornea- in over 90 patients wearing contact lenses using cleaning/disinfecting solutions, ReNu and MoistreLoc by Bausch and Lomb.
The FDA plans three studies, culminating in a survey of quality of life following LASIK surgery in about 2500 patients from the general population.This may not take place for 1-3 years. According to this site, LASIK eye Surgery“ is the procedure of choice and can be elected to be done for a person who is dependent on glasses or contact lens for a prolonged period.” It seems to me that one should consider carefully whether his desire not to wear glasses or contacts supercedes the possible immediate and long-term risks of undergoing surgery on his cornea.
I wonder, in other words, the true percentage of 750,000 patients a year who really Need or benefit from LASIK surgery. See this American Academy of Ophthalmology site.for more information.