Lasik Surgery–Oversold or Simply the Risk of the Procedure

Elective surgery, particularly when it has a cosmetic or convenience rationale, should be completely safe and effective.

It now appears that LASIK (laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) has problems and the industry is being criticized for not be fully honest about risks. This in Salon notes:

Last spring, the FDA inspected about 50 Lasik facilities and found that many had no system in place for collecting and transmitting data to the FDA on patients’ reports of post-surgical “adverse events.”

And in August, Consumer Reports Health released the results of a survey, which found that 55 percent of Americans who’ve had laser vision correction surgeries are still wearing glasses or contacts some of the time. Fifty-three percent experienced at least one side effect within the first four weeks of the surgery; 22 percent of patients experienced them six months after surgery, especially dry eyes, halos, glare and starbursts around lights.

Lasik surgery, which can cost up to $5,000, has a 95.4 percent patient satisfaction rate, based on an analysis of research worldwide from 1996 to 2008,

Medicynical note; There are two problems here. The first is the push for revenue by LASIK providers. The more they do, the more they make. With such incentives providers tend to minimize risk and extend their indications for the procedure. The second is the patient wanting (for some reason desperately wanting) surgery assuming they have no to minimal risk or that the other person is more likely to get the complications.

This powerful drive for medical services and the tendency to ignor risk (and cost) is part of our system wide problem.

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