The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Newsblurb: One heckuva brave reporter

New York Times
Lasik Surgery: When the fine print applies to you
Abby Ellin

This is a surprising article... from the remarkably candid firsthand experience with LASIK by a reporter who has dry eye and blurry vision as a result, to the direct quotes from her surgeon, such as "I do see it as a success" and "In 18 years of practice, I’ve never had a patient whose symptoms don’t go away".

BRIEF ASIDE: With all due respect, I really have to wonder how any surgeon could still make this "I've never had a patient who..." type claim - to journalists no less! - when years of published medical evidence about the rates of side effects makes such an assertion simply not credible. The dry eye cat has been out of the bag for far too long to play this tune. In my opinion, if a surgeon in practice for many years claims to have no long-term dry eye patients after lasik, there's only a few possible explanations: 1) The patients with long term dry eye were all "lost to follow-up" i.e. never came back after the 6 month mark. 2) The surgeon has not measured or tabulated the data. 3) The surgeon is, er, "accuracy challenged".

Unsurprisingly, the article has attracted a huge number of comments from readers, ranging from sympathizing fellow dry eye patients to other patients absolutely lambasting the reporter for blaming anyone other than herself (although in the article, she manifestly does blame herself!).

The fact that the NYT ran this article is, in my opinion, one of several recent indications that at long last the LASIK status quo may be changing.

First there were the exciting "new technology" honeymoon news reports in the late 90's leading up to the first FDA approvals of excimer lasers for LASIK, and following cases such as Tiger Woods. Then there was the "Get LASIK" freefall around 2000-2002 when, largely as a result of activism by Ron Link's group The Surgical Eye Foundation, everyone everywhere was reporting on complications. That in turn quickly gave way to a status quo where LASIK was simply a cultural norm and, by and large, journalists had no interest complications. For many years, the only news about refractive surgery seemed to be obligatory slow-news-day technology-update reports or minor business news items.

Is the tide turning? You tell me... Is LASIK going to go out of style?