An Outspoken Few Are Disillusioned With LASIK Surgery
Kristin Pisacano, MD, medical director of refractive surgery at the New York
Eye Surgery Center in the Bronx, also wants to help consumers understand what
they're getting into.
"It's hard to tell what went wrong with Roger and Howard," who
posted on the Surgical Eyes site, says Pisacano, author of the book LASIK
Vision Correction. But they likely had complications which, if they were
treated in a timely manner, could have been corrected.
The more serious complication, called "sands," creates a painful,
dry-eye condition that is treatable -- but must be treated correctly and
immediately, she tells WebMD. "Nobody knows exactly what causes it,"
she tells WebMD. It's treatable with drops, or sometimes the surgeon needs to
perform a minor surgical procedure to lift the flap again and irrigate the area
with solution. "But it is treatable," Pisacano says.
Wrinkles in the flap are rare, but can occur, she says, especially in people
who rub or squeeze their eyelids -- sometimes in their sleep. "Those are
more tricky to treat, but they are treatable if you're seeing someone who knows
how." That condition must also be addressed right away to maintain optimal
The longer such conditions are ignored, the less likely they can be
corrected, Pisacano says.
Vision undercorrection and overcorrection are "pretty common," and
correctable with a touch-up procedure performed two months after the original
Most LASIK price packages include any follow-up procedures, Pisacano says,
except those from many discount operations, which depend on getting patients in
and out fast. "That's why I'm a little leery of those places," she
Finding a good LASIK surgeon and having reasonable expectations are key to
satisfaction, she adds. "Most patients are happy. They have realistic
expectations when they go in. You need to find a doctor who will realistically
explain things to you and not say you're going to see things 20/20 the next
Not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK surgery, she adds. "However,
discount places aren't turning them away."
In fact, LASIK is one of the few surgical procedures that are marketed
competitively, says William W. Culbertson, MD, director of refractive surgery
at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami School of
Medicine. "When the goal is to recruit people and sell them on the
procedure, the potential risks are minimized, and patients who are not good
candidates are encouraged to have it."
Further, patients often have unrealistic expectations about LASIK,
Culbertson says. "I had a patient who had 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the
other. She was extremely upset that both weren't 20/20. That's not always
possible. But her perception was that she was going to have perfect vision.