Failures of vision corrective surgery.
January 31, 2005 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Surgical Eyes - source of info about complications and their treatment from Lasik and other vision correction surgeries.
posted by Gyan (32 comments total)
As a myopic who has worn glasses for 50+ years, I will not anyone near my eyes with knives or lasers - partly squeamishness and partly attachment to my facial accessory. I can understand the attraction, but damn you have to know at some level that things can go wrong sometimes. Same old story, convincing salespeople and vendors of varying skill/morals.

That said, surely there must be some eye surgery victim out there who can help them out with making their site a little more appealing.
posted by skyscraper at 7:06 PM on January 31, 2005

The list of complications contains some really horrifying terms. Flap Melt and Aquarium Vision are two things I'd really like to avoid.

Included in the list is "Quality of Life (loss of)." That seems like a bit of a category mistake.
posted by painquale at 7:14 PM on January 31, 2005

For the record, this site follows complications for all eye surgeries. This includes surgery for cataracts (a.k.a. IOL).
posted by 6:1 at 7:27 PM on January 31, 2005

I've worn glasses since I was three. It's not that bad, especially since the invention of polycarbonate lenses, so I can wear little Lennon glasses instead of the huge Coke-bottle glasses that used to carve into my nose every summer while I was growing up.

I'm farsighted, so I'd be a good candidate for this kind of surgery (I'm told), but I wouldn't trust ANYBODY slicing into my eyes without at least fifty years of experience... maybe I'm squeamish. My job depends on my eyes, and seeing Lasik (type) surgery advertised in the comics section of my local newspaper every weekend actually makes me LESS likely to trust them... before Lasik, it was always car dealerships that used to advertise on those annoying little flaps of newsprint that you have to tear off before you can read the front page of the comics.

Where are those dealerships now? If someone bought a bad car from them, they can always buy a new car- what if my Lasik "dealership" isn't advertising in five years, and the eyes I bought from them are failing?
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:33 PM on January 31, 2005

Risks are miniscule -- extremely. The vast, overwhelming majority of LASIK (and PRK) patients do very well. Having said that...there is no way in hell that I would ever undergo either procedure -- the risks may be eensy-teensy, but I don't want to lose vision completely. On the other hand, my wife underwent LASIK about 4 years ago -- she was -9.5/-9 and figured that just about ANY improvement would be, well, an improvement. Also, she worked as an opto tech, was very close to all of the optometrists and surgeon, and went with a very reputable company and provider. Sure enough -- she walked out of there with 20/20, and still is.

Definitely a situation where YMMV...unless your vision is VERY BAD, I don't think that I would recommend it. But if you've got not much vision to lose, and are sure to check the credentials and history of your ophthalmologist, the cost/benefit risk might very well be worth it.
posted by davidmsc at 7:39 PM on January 31, 2005

I would never have it done either--it's just too much to risk.
posted by amberglow at 7:46 PM on January 31, 2005

I'll never do it, and I think it's bizarre that a number of people born with perfect vision have suggested that I get lasik. I like my glasses. And I'll believe that the vast majority of lasik patients don't have complications when such a time comes that a generation of them have lived and died without any unforeseen side effects. i.e. not in my lifetime. What is it that glasses-less people imagine is so horrible about wearing glasses?
posted by bingo at 7:52 PM on January 31, 2005

A co-worker recently had Lasik, and still swears by it. Even after viewing the site, I'm considering it - I'm an SCA geek and it'd be nice to be free of glasses at events.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:09 PM on January 31, 2005

I have to say, that getting LASIK was the best thing I ever did for myself, including the whole quit-smoking thing.

Granted, I was only -3.0 in both eyes, plus I has astigmatism, but I wasn't as blind as some folks.

I had it done in the of '99 in two separate visits. I now have 20/10 in my left (weak) eye and 20/20 in my natural right. They used a better laser on on my left, but hey, who's complaining. I only paid $1200US.

Oh, and all three of my sisters and my cousin have had it done as well. And he got it done in Canada. Cheaper, yet balsier, IMHO.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:17 PM on January 31, 2005

"Our goal is to restore quality of life to the thousands who suffer from complications of LASIK and other refractive surgeries. " No thanks. In any case, even 'successful' LASIK leaves you with a distinctly thinned cornea. And LASIK being a relatively new procedure, no one knows the eventuality of a cornea-thinned eye after 30, 40, 50 years... Which makes it all one very big experiment.
posted by ronin21 at 8:36 PM on January 31, 2005

wouldnt it be great if there was a way to get perfect vision without glasses and without the risk of lasik....i know i'll just get robotic eye implants when they come out!
posted by EvilKenji at 8:41 PM on January 31, 2005

I my self have had lasik surgery w/ wavefront. (By this dude)

The only time I was afraid that i and made a mistake was the first 3 months when my eyes were dry and my vision got blurry. (A common side effect of the healing)

I had to put drop in my eye every 2 hours for me to see clearly.

Well, it's been almost a year, and I have no doubt that this was better for me.

I am an engineer who is very active with contact sports (i.e. jiu jitsu and kick boxing). My eye gets bashed and rubbed constantly, no probs there. No probs with surfing or snowboarding either. (and no contact lens falling off in mid-duck dive)

The only issue is, when my eyes are dry, I start having that ghosting issue--- but all i have to do it put a few drops in.
posted by countzen at 8:43 PM on January 31, 2005

I had PRK in September. Absolute best thing I ever did.
I second countzen, though. PRK has a long inital recovery time, unlike LASIK, where you walk out of the office seeing 20/20. For the first few days I wondered what I had done to myself. All worth it in the end.
posted by oflinkey at 8:49 PM on January 31, 2005

Unfortunately, I have some kind of scarring in my corneas that means I'll be wearing contact lenses or glasses the rest of my days. When I found this out, I was half-disappointed, and half relieved.

Contact lenses are getting much better these days... within 5-10 years there'll be lenses than I can actually leave in a week or a month (unlike the ones they have now where they say you can leave 'em in overnight but if you do, you will live your life in a constant haze).
posted by kindall at 9:03 PM on January 31, 2005

Here's my semi-rational argument against - I still hold out hope that I can make it onto the first wave of life-extension treatments (note: I started reading SF before I got glasses - there may be some connection). Fifty years from now, I don't want to hear somebody say "Well, if you only hadn't had that eye surgery in 2005, you could have 20/.001 vision {or} live for another 100 years {or} see the entities from Arisia". Okay, an exaggeration, but the technology will improve and my eyesight can only get worse.

I also second odinsdream - being able to peep over the top of my glasses and see closeup detail that other people need magnifying glasses for is second nature - don't think I could do without.

Semi-rational, I said.
posted by skyscraper at 9:07 PM on January 31, 2005

skyscraper: "Well, if you only hadn't had that eye surgery in 2005, you could have 20/.001 vision {or} live for another 100 years

By the time we get there, blindness will be curable.
posted by Gyan at 9:27 PM on January 31, 2005

What is it that glasses-less people imagine is so horrible about wearing glasses?

It's the nose cushions.
posted by AloneOssifer at 9:28 PM on January 31, 2005

I got my Laser Surgery done last year in a back of a Semi parked in a New Orleans hotel parking lot.


But I came out of it just fine, as far as short-term goes. The funny thing is though, when I start reading all these horror stories I subconsciously start unfocusing my eyes and freaking out.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:33 PM on January 31, 2005

Why would anyone who plays the lottery ever get laser eye surgery?
posted by HTuttle at 12:19 AM on February 1, 2005

ronin21 -- LASIK is much less thinning to the cornea than older procedures, and there is at least one procedure that is completely reversible: Intacs. (A tiny flap cut in the cornea, but not in a part of the eye that you use to refract light. A plastic hemisphere is inserted in the flap, and it shapes the eye correctly).

I can certainly understand the squeamishness, but it is important to point out that the failure rates approach those that a statistician would call "essentially zero."

I wear glasses, and would love not to. It complicates my sunglasses life. When I go rock-climbing, I scratch them on the cliff (yup, my face is regularly quite close to the rock). If I forget my "croakies" when I climb, I get irrational panic attacks about losing my glasses on the cliff and not being able to see to complete the climb. In bad weather, they fog up. When I ski, I have to wear the huge, fog-prone goggles that go over my glasses. Glasses get dirty. They cut down on contrast and reflect light. It makes it a pain to watch TV laying down. Glasses put a layer of glass between the world and my beautiful blue-green eyes, thus risking shielding my best babe-attracting trait (ha!).

Sure, I've gotten used to all this. But when I can afford it, I'd love to be rid of them.
posted by teece at 12:27 AM on February 1, 2005

I hear the worst eye-laser-surgery-gone-bad stories out of the US... I've known a couple people here in Canada that have gotten it and been totally happy with it, though.

I'm thinking about it.

Still, though. Lasers + eyes? It's scary as hell.
posted by blacklite at 12:55 AM on February 1, 2005

I'm completely with teece - glasses really aren't designed to allow you to live like a human being.
Fortunately, I'm a code-monkey, so that's not a problem.

I'm still waiting for these babies to come on stream. Mmmm, eye implants.
posted by NinjaPirate at 1:51 AM on February 1, 2005

Interesting that this topic should come up now. I was scheduled for my lasik procedure last Thursday but it was postponed until after Mardi Gras. Just as well I suppose, I have company coming in and don't want to deal with the followup appointment when I could be attending parades. I have considered having the procedure for years and finally decided to take the plunge. The man doing my procedure is from Tulane and quite a bit more expensive than the people you see advertised but the idea of having my eyes worked on in the parking lot of a hotel scares the crap out of me. Stan Chin, you're much braver than I am.
posted by djeo at 3:17 AM on February 1, 2005

I would love more than almost anything to get rid of my glasses but, having spent a couple of days totally blind as a kid makes me absolutely terrified of the consequences if something goes wrong. I think one day I probably will, though, because 30 years of wearing glasses is just too long.
posted by dg at 3:44 AM on February 1, 2005

Also, that web site - "Aaaaargh, my eyes!"
posted by dg at 3:44 AM on February 1, 2005

I've had lasik done, it was awesome for me. I also made damned sure that I went to a reputable doctor as opposed to the $500/eye technicians. That 'inflated' the price by about 6X. If you go to an actual doctor who's in it for more than a quick buck he'll turn you away if you're at a statistically meaningful increased risk. This guy would, he turned away my younger sister. She had already been told that she was an excellent candidate by one of the technicians and fortunately I talked her into talking to the doctor.

A surgical procedure, and no matter how painless it might be it's still a surgical procedure, has been commoditzed and productized. The results on the quality of the procedure are about what I'd expect if tonsillectomies or appendectomies were made into commodity surgeries.

The doctor I went to was already an eye surgeon for many years and is one of the leading doctors in this field.
posted by substrate at 5:41 AM on February 1, 2005

I, too, have had LASIK, about a year ago. My wife went under the laser a month ago. We're both quite pleased with the results. We, like substrate, did not shop by price, but by reputation, and spent quite a bit more than $500/eye. Neither of us have had any complications.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:23 AM on February 1, 2005

I've worn glasses since I was 3, and have considered but never done lasik, but even with my myopia, that's one of the worst website designs I've seen in a long time.
posted by crunchland at 7:42 AM on February 1, 2005

I forgot where I saw it, but doctors make a lot more "mistakes" in their first 200 surgeries than they do afterwards; it's a significant statistical difference in the number of patients who end up having complications. Shopping around does wonders.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:53 AM on February 1, 2005

Most of the low cost offers you see are for clinics without a significant past history of these surgeries. So you're getting a break in price to be one of their first 200.
posted by substrate at 12:16 PM on February 1, 2005

It's the nose cushions.

Huh. My glasses don't have those.

teece makes some good points, for people with lifestyles like his. But I will most likely never be in any of those situations.
posted by bingo at 5:11 PM on February 1, 2005

the equivalent to focus night-n-days, which are horrible

The first time I tried Focus N&D, a couple years ago when they'd just come out, they sucked. This past December, though, my (new) optometrist suggested I try them again. I reluctantly did so -- and they are great. I still have to take them out every night, of course. With a -10.00 prescription, the lenses are too thick to leave in more than a day at a time.
posted by kindall at 6:15 PM on February 1, 2005

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