LASIK is The One Surgery Eye Doctors Choose Not to Have, Here's Why

LASIK surgery doctor

If your eye doctor will not have LASIK done to improve his vision, then should you? This question is in light of a statement by Dr. Oz’s special guest Dr. Cynthia MacKay an ophthalmologist who is not alone in stating that, “LASIK is the one surgery that eye doctors will not get.”

In a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz looks into LASIK surgery and questions whether it’s safe, complication-free, and fulfills promises made by many LASIK providers. Within recently, the LASIK industry has expanded its services by stating that not only can nearsightedness be treated with LASIK, but also that LASIK surgery is good for older adults as well.

“It’s the world’s most popular elective surgery—LASIK,” says Dr. Oz as reveals his shocking investigative findings of the side effects of LASIK warning viewers that an FDA report states that one in every 5 people who have LASIK surgery report having worse vision than what they had before surgery.

Dr. Oz’s revelation is backed by Morris Waxler, Ph.D. a former FDA official who once was involved in the approval of LASIK surgery but has since turned whistleblower telling the public that those reported side effects that are claimed to affect only a very small percentage of patients are actually injuries that cripple the vision of up to 20 percent of patients.

“The FDA was hoodwinked,” says Dr. Waxler revealing that the true nature of the side effects was downplayed by the LASIK industry to gain approval for the medical procedure.

To get this FDA approval, Dr. Waxler states that the LASIK laser manufacturers purposefully classified complications like double vision and dry eyes as “side effects” rather than as “injuries” due to the laser procedure. A claim of injury would have automatically resulted in a disapproval of the procedure by the FDA.

Every year over 800,000 people have LASIK surgery, many of who based their decision on slick ads blatant enough to claim that your vision could be 20/20 in just 10 minutes with LASIK surgery. Other similar claims and promises include:

• “Throw away your glasses!”

• “No more need for expensive contact lenses!”

• “Have your vision permanently corrected!”

• “Your eyes will have high-definition vision clarity!”

Furthermore there are claims that having a Multifocal LASIK procedure can eliminate a person’s need for bifocals and reading glasses.

However, many patients have unfortunately discovered that the ads were misleading about services provided―that they did not fulfill their promises or reveal the catch behind the promise. For example, although some do receive 20/20 correction to their vision it came at a cost of seeing double, poor night vision with halos and starbursts around vehicle headlights and street lights at night, and the most common complaint of all—permanent dry eye that leaves the patient with constantly burning eye pain.

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Consumer Expert Elisabeth Leamy who has studied the LASIK industry tells Dr. Oz that she first became interested in finding out the truth about LASIK surgery after hearing about Dr. Waxler becoming a whistleblower about the industry and its practice.

“If he is right about that 20 percent injury rate, then that is troubling,” says Ms. Leamy. “This is a completely unnecessary procedure on a very necessary part of your body, so ideally, the injury rate would be more like zero.”

Dr. Oz explains that one cause of the side effects from LASIK surgery is due to the cutting of a flap in the cornea that is needed in order to get the eye-shaping laser into the eye. After the laser treatment, the flap is replaced over the eye and allowed to heal. However, even when the procedure is done perfectly—which at times it is not—the healing of the flap cannot be controlled and may heal slightly askew which then results in a number of the aforementioned side effects that Dr. Oz warns can become life-changing for many patients―in some cases leading to suffering, depression and even suicide.

“It’s one of the reasons why that when I spoke to a prominent ophthalmologist―an eye doctor―he said that not one of the doctors in his facility had had LASIK surgery,” says Dr. Oz.

With Dr. Oz was also introduced special guest Dr. Julius Shukman a LASIK surgery advocate and ophthalmologist who tells Dr. Oz that hearing about all the negative comments about LASIK surgery makes his blood boil because, “…LASIK today in the right patient, who has reasonable expectations, done with modern lasers by skilled a doctor is one of the safest operations that can be performed,” says Dr. Shukman. ”The complication rate is way less than one percent.”

Dr. Oz rebuts Dr. Shukman’s “less than one percent” number stating that the FDA has been studying the problem for the past 4 years and has found that the number is actually closer to 20 percent, but have not yet finished the study and published their results. Furthermore, Dr. Oz and Ms. Leamy both point to a Consumer Reports study that reveals that at least 55 percent of all LASIK patients return to having to wear glasses.

However, Dr. Oz does state that the high numbers of patients with side effects from LASIK surgery could be more due to patients choosing a poor quality LASIK facility and poorly skilled doctor that cannot perform the procedure as well as they should, rather than blaming the procedure itself.

Dr. Oz offers the following recommendations:

• Don’t be lured in by the fanciness and convenience of a LASIK service that offers “20/20 vision or your money back”—Dr. Oz says that a reputable doctor and service will not make such an offer.

• If you do decide to have LASIK surgery, do only one eye at a time to ensure that you will be satisfied with the results and not wind up totally blind or have severely compromised vision.

In an article written by Ms. Leamy for The Dr. Oz Show website, she points out that LASIK surgery has only been with us for the past 15 years and it is still unclear what the long-term results will be for people who have had the surgery and grow older. The question remains as to even with those who have not had any side effects and are perfectly happy with their LASIK surgery results now, will they develop crippling eye problems as they grow older later?

The take home message is this: if your own eye doctor wears glasses and refuses to get LASIK for himself, then perhaps there is more than meets the eye to having LASIK surgery and what the ads claim it will “do for you” rather than what it may “do to you.”

For an informative article on choosing a LASIK surgeon, click-on the titled link, "7 Tips on How to Choose a Good LASIK Surgeon."

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference: The Dr. Oz Show