Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lasik surgery is a gamble

I can empathize with this cautionary story in the March 13, 2008 New York Times: Lasik Surgery: When the Fine Print Applies to You.

I had Lasik surgery done by Dr. Raymond Fong in the summer of 2001. I had just finished my Army service and the corrective surgery was a welcome-home gift from my mom.

I agreed to it for several reasons. My brother had had the procedure with Dr. Fong and he was satisfied with the results. Vanity like Abby Ellin's, the author of the NY Times piece. I was accustomed to wearing glasses, but I never liked them: the dependency, persistent disgusting green growth between the lenses and the rims, the blinder effect, the thick lenses, the hit-or-miss nature of ever-changing prescriptions, the humid feel of them when I was sick, and the lenses fogging up, scratching up, and getting dirty. I gave up on contact lenses because of the expensive and annoying maintenance, their tendency to slip off my eyes, and the uncomfortable daily ritual of deliberately placing foreign objects onto my eyeballs. As a recent soldier, I also had fresh memories of the real vulnerabilities and danger of poor vision and the impracticality of eyeglasses in a tactical environment. The prospect of going from blind and sight-aided to perfect vision with a simple surgical procedure was tantalizing indeed.

Unfortunately, my Lasik surgery didn't leave me with perfect vision. I didn't expect 20/20 vision because with glasses, I had about 20/25 vision. I hoped for 20/20, but if I attained 20/25 with the surgery, I would be satisfied. My vision has been about 20/25 on an eyechart since the surgery, so it was successful in that regard. However, I've learned that many important aspects of vision are not measureable on an eyechart.

Since the Lasik, I've had problems with floaters, ghost images or double vision, contrast sensitivity, glare, halos and starbursts (night vision).

Floaters now have a permanent place moving across my field of vision. I don't know that the floaters were caused by the surgery; it may be that they were already floating free in my vitreous before the surgery, and the way my vision worked through my old glasses disguised them while the removal of glasses revealed them. Be that as it may, floaters continually distract me now and I didn't have a floater problem before the surgery.

When reading over an extended period of time, my vision eventually doubles with a ghost image effect that worsens if I attempt to push through it. This was especially troubling when I was a student. The double vision isn't due to a failure of my two eyes to coordinate, it's there if I use one eye. The effect takes a while to recover. It's happened when television watching, too.

The contrast sensitivity problem is most noticeable when I'm indoors facing the window during a bright day. Close people and objects will be dark against the backlighting from the window - think of a camera that can't be adjusted to fix the light contrast obscuring of an image.

At night, my glare, halo, and starburst problems didn't go away 3-to-4 weeks after the surgery as I had been informed to expect. They just stayed and are as bad now as they were immediately following the surgery. For starbursts, think of TV images where every light source (say, in an indoor sports arena), no matter how far in the background, is surrounded by spikes of light in the foreground that block out whatever's behind them, except the spikes of light in my vision are much more irregular and jagged. Unlike some others, I don't think I've lost my night vision as far as my eyes adjusting to the dark; however, it's hard to say for sure since I live in a city that's lit practically 24/7. I haven't driven a car at night since the surgery.

Like Abby Ellin's doctor, Dr. Fong seemed to "gaslight" my complaints and concerns. He kept insisting that the surgery was a success, and it was, if judged exclusively by the standard of an eyechart test. He eventually admitted that the technology to fix my side effects didn't exist yet. (Does it now? I should find out.) Maybe that's why Lasik practicioners seem so unconcerned about certain Lasik-related complaints - there really isn't anything they can do to solve those problems. It would seem that I fell into the percentage of Lasik recipients for whom the fine print applies.

Do I regret having the Lasik surgery? Yes. Correctable, even if inconveniently corrected with glasses, vision, with full utility of aspects of vision beyond the eyechart, is better than improved vision with uncorrectable side effects. Lasik has worked well enough for enough people so that I would not advise anyone who asked not to get the surgery, but I would caution them that it's a gamble.

Eric

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12 Comments:

Blogger lasikcomplications said...

LASIK was the worst decision of my life. Since I had LASIK I have spent untold hours researching LASIK complications. The medical literature and FDA clinical trials demonstrate that large numbers of patients with "sucessful" outcomes experience complications such as dry eyes, reduced contrast sensitivity, and night vision halos and starbursts. You can read these medical studies on my website at:
www.lasikcomplications.com

3/16/2008 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi eric
i am sorry to hear you have floaters. me too after lasik as i was googling a lot in the internet. i have floaters too and is really frustrated over it. where do u perform ur lasik e.g. in singapore?

a good news is you might want to try liver detox to cure floaters, it would work.

6/09/2008 3:18 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Hi Eric,

I had Lasik enhancement done to my eyes about 10 months ago and have been miserable ever since. I too have issues with contrast sensitivity but only in my left eye. I believe it's called disability glare. It has not gotten better at all. Also, just as annoying, I have floaters everywhere in my vision. Not just little squiggly lines or dots but actual blurry spots that are really evident in front of light sources. I actually had to start taking depression/anxiety medicine because the complications were ruining my life. I had my surgery performed by one of the best doctors who has completed thousands of Lasik surgeries. As it stands, I see my Lasik doctor every month for him to tell me it should get better. I really regret getting the 2nd surgery. Have your complications gotten any better?

3/21/2009 12:32 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hi Eric,

I read about your complications after the surgery, and I must admit that I am getting scared about getting the surgery myself.

I have scheduled an appointment with Dr. Fong next Saturday, but so far every online comment states that Dr. Fong is rude, uncaring, etc. I want to get rid of glasses, but it's not to the point where I want to risk ruining my eyes. I am especially worried because my eyes are really dry (I'm not sure why they are, but I need to put in eye drops sometimes because they get very dry).

Do you mind giving me some extra advice about your experiences? I would really appreciate it if we can have a conversation together about it. My email is honeydrops@gmail.com. Thank you!

9/06/2009 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Karina Chiodo said...

This is the first time I heard someone someone actually regret having LASIK surgery. Most of the people I talked to loved the result of LASIK. I guess there is a risk - albeit a very small one - of failure, just like in any other operation. However, LASIK still has a very high success rate, making it the top choice for people who want to improve their vision.

7/28/2011 3:20 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Mike, the complications are the same, now 10+ years since my Lasik.

Caroline, apologies ... I'm not diligent about checking the comments on my blog. Would you still like to exchange e-mails?

9/17/2011 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eric
I also had the lasik surgery done by Dr Raymond Fong five years ago. The procedure was not that successful. He turned my nearsight vision to farsightness,I was very regreted to do this surgery. He is rude and not care about the lasik result for his patients. It has alredy been five years, I still live in pain and unable to live in normal life.

4/12/2013 7:24 PM  
Anonymous cml said...

Hi eric. I am having the same symptoms as you described. Can we exchange emails please? Cml

8/27/2013 3:40 PM  
Blogger rahul kumar said...

it is not a gamle,After having LASIK surgery, most patients enjoy a clear, natural vision. This procedure allows them to enjoy a more fulfilling active lifestyle and pursue activities that were limited by wearing glasses or contacts. Additionally, undergoing LASIK, eliminates the expense of continually purchasing glasses, contacts or solutions required to see clearly.

7/01/2014 4:26 PM  
Blogger rahul kumar said...

Hi,

It is not a gamble because US-FDA has approved LASIK as a safe and effective procedure. Scientific military studies document that astronauts, Navy SEALS and pilots have had the procedure. LASIK technology has also dramatically improved over the last decade, with advancements that has made the procedure safer and more accurate. It is important, however, to remember that LASIK is not the right choice for everybody. Some people are not appropriate candidates, for them there are other options such as a Surface Ablation or an Intraocular Collamer Lens (ICL) which could be tried.

7/04/2014 2:44 PM  
Blogger Nancy Burleson said...

My son, Max Cronin, age 27 years old, an Iraqi War Veteran and college student, committed suicide 1-14-16, as a direct result of complications he experienced from Lasik. He left suicide letters stating this and kept details of his complications. He experienced vision loss, constant eye pain, dry eyes, haze, and loss of quality of life resulting in depression and his suicide. He was unable to work or continue his life goals due to his eye complications.

As a medical physician, I can definitely state that Lasik complications can lead to suicide.

For an elective procedure, the risks and long term complications are understated.

The resultant complications and negative quality of life issues increase the risks of depression, attempted suicide, and suicide.

Nancy L. Burleson MD FACOG
Gonzales, Texas

5/04/2016 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lasik Ruined my life as well. I had floaters as well and found out my eye suffered from Posterior Vitreous Detachment. I hope all these lasik MDs and the people in the FDA ignoring the dangers of Lasik burn in Hell. My life is now dry eye pain and glare headaches. The depression
is hell on earth.I wake up everyday hating myself for paying some idiot to completely destroy my life.

12/06/2016 7:25 PM  

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