A Blurry Outlook for LASIK?
As eye surgery patients report problems, FDA takes a closer look.
April 22, 2008— -- Lured by the promise of 20/20 vision, it's one of the world's most popular elective surgeries. But not everyone sings the praises of LASIK.
Lauranell Burch is one patient who is not happy with the results.
While working at Duke University, Burch received a mailing to employees that touted the benefits of the university's laser eye surgery. A senior medical researcher, Burch did her homework before undergoing the LASIK procedure, which stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, in March 2004. She read the clinical trials with interest and combed the Internet for details. Still, she says, she didn't get the whole story.
"No one has received full informed consent for LASIK," Burch said. "If anyone knew what this procedure really does to their eyes, they wouldn't have it."
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Still, 28.3 million people worldwide have decided to undergo the surgery since the mid-'90s to improve their sight. LASIK doctors say complications from the eye surgery are rare, and a study published in January's American Journal of Ophthalmology showed the benefits of LASIK can last a decade. LASIK's industry group insists patients are satisfied by the results of the procedure.
"When we look at outcomes of LASIK - 20/20 rates - our outcomes of LASIK today are better than they have ever been," said Dr. Kerry Solomon, professor of opthalmology at the Medical University of South Carolina. "The technology has advanced to the point that there has never been a better time to undergo LASIK eye surgery. Our outcomes are better and these procedures are safer."
Nonetheless, after receiving reports of double vision, night blindness, dry eye and halos, the Food and Drug Administration is taking another look at LASIK. On April 25, experts will hear from patients and review what's known about the experiences of approximately 700,000 patients who undergo LASIK each year in the United States. The FDA received 140 comments about LASIK dissatisfaction between 1998 and 2006.
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