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If You or Someone You Love is Considering Lasik
January 26, 2013

Once or twice a year I will devote a special edition of Spark Plug to warning people about the dangers of Lasik eye surgery. I do this for two reasons. First, I know from my own personal experience how severely a bad Lasik outcome can diminish the quality of one's life. I feel a personal obligation to help make sure people have really considered and researched what will be one of the most important, and risky, decisions they ever make.

Second, Lasik is the ethical black hole of the medical profession, and as someone who has devoted his life to promoting values I feel a strong professional obligation to speak out about this. While most Lasik patients are happy with their short-term outcome (though no one knows the long-term complications - see my comments below), the failure rate is far higher than the industry will admit to. Virtually every Lasik casualty I've communicated with was told by the surgeon that the procedure has a 99% success rate (which is a lie) and the worst complication they might experience is transient dry eye, easily treated with eye drops (another lie).

A few years ago I gave a speech for several hundred operating room managers, including those whose clinics performed Lasik. I told them what I've just told you - that Lasik is the ethical black hole of the medical profession. Afterward I was signing books and six different people encouraged me to keep getting the message out. One OR manager said that physicians in her clinic routinely misled prospective patients about the risks and failed to report bad outcomes (which they are legally required to do). Then she predicted that Lasik will be "the next Dalkon Shield," referring to one of the most horrendous medical product liability catastrophes in history.

This is why I continue to speak out, continue to warn people to think twice before they put their precious eyes at risk in a cosmetic procedure.

In today's Spark Plug
  • The True Dangers of Lasik Eye Surgery
  • Unethical Lasik Promotional Practices: When Doctors Fail the Integrity Test

  • The True Dangers of Lasik Eye Surgery

    Since I started speaking out about the dangers of Lasik eye surgery, and unethical practices within the Lasik industry, hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from another Lasik casualty. Last week it was four of them. The most heartbreaking was from a young woman who, because of Lasik, can no longer read or work at a computer without severe pain, and is confined to the indoors because her eyes cannot tolerate sun and wind. She said that though she will still live for many more years, her life is over. And all for a medically unnecessary cosmetic procedure.

    Dr. Morris Waxler, the FDA official who approved Lasik in 1996, is now leading a campaign to ban the procedure because the industry submitted false and misleading data back then and continues to cover up bad outcomes today. Hundreds of Lasik casualties have signed his online petition, and the most frequent comment is some variation of "Lasik ruined my life." In at least three cases that was literally true because the petition was signed by a friend or relative of someone who committed suicide after having had their eyes mangled by a Lasik surgeon.

    The leading Lasik surgeon in Taiwan recently stopped doing the procedure because he was seeing too many people who initially had a good outcome return 8-10 years later with serious complications. He said it was a matter of medical ethics that he no longer perform Lasik.

    For the young person who's had Lasik, the implications of this are horrifying. If people who initially had a good outcome are suffering serious complications a decade later, what will happen to the 22-year-old when he or she is 75? No one knows.

    They've been doing the procedure for less than twenty years. In fact, because they do virtually no long-term follow up on people who have had the procedure, and in most cases fail to report bad outcomes to the FDA so they can be tracked, there will be no way of knowing until problems become so widespread that they hit the mainstream media.

    If you or someone you love is considering Lasik, please do your own homework. Do not trust a Lasik surgeon to be honest with you (for more on that, see the next article). I have posted my special report on 12 Things You Should Know if You Are Considering Lasik Eye Surgery plus all of the videos I've done at this website:

    I would be happy to correspond with anyone who is considering this procedure, and/or refer you to one of the very few clinicians in the country who specialize in treating Lasik injuries (sadly, there is very little than can be done once the damage has been done).

    Unethical Lasik Promotional Practices: When Doctors Fail the Integrity Test

    I am one of thousands of people for whom getting Lasik eye surgery was the worst mistake of a lifetime (I ended up with double vision, impaired visual acuity, and chronic eye pain). The surgeon told me to my face that I was "a perfect candidate" for Lasik, then falsely wrote in my medical record (which I obtained after the fact) that I has significant contraindications but that he had discussed these with me and I had agreed to go ahead with the surgery. I've heard variations of this story from many other Lasik casualties.

    The Lasik Advertising Network is a company that teaches Lasik surgeons how to convince reluctant prospects to go ahead with the surgery. This is a direct quote from the company's website:

    "... our clients have enjoyed some of the highest volume success rates in the county. With a deep understanding of the consumer psychology of a LASIK patient, our results-driven LASIK marketing campaigns not only compel consumers to have LASIK but to have LASIK with you... today!" (emphasis in original)

    Think about what this is saying. This company teaches Lasik surgeons to use sophisticated psychological profiling (e.g. preying on the insecurity of young people worried about their appearances) in order to "compel" them to submit to a high-risk surgical procedure that could result in a lifetime of misery. And not just "compel" them to have the surgery - compel them to have it "today" - before they've had a chance to ask questions, research the potential complications, check references, or think twice about the risks they are taking with their precious eyes.

    This is not just bad medicine, it is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath and profoundly unethical. And when it results in ruining someone's life, the way did to the young woman I mentioned above, it is a terrible thing for a doctor to have done to a human being.

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