LASIK: some still in the dark

January 1, 2008

I recently attended a party where I was drawn into a conversation by some people who had one thing in common – LASIK. Somebody amongst the group had undergone the procedure six years ago (incidentally, that was my sister) whilst another underwent wavefront-guided LASIK just weeks prior. Each of the four people had a story to tell about their experience with the procedure but, overall, each claimed they were happy with the end result.

During the conversation, however, my sister made a comment that roused a passionate response. "I was told that I would have LASIK in the morning and by the afternoon, I could go shopping if I liked. They lied. I was in agony for the first day and for days thereafter the pain had lessened but it was still constant. I was beside myself and thought it had all gone wrong," she said.

The conversation that followed was very different. Each person had faced similar experiences in that they were not prepared for the pain and/or complications that ensued. As a result, they felt that perhaps the procedure simply "hadn't worked properly for them."

This made me question how laser refractive surgery was being perceived by the public. With certain laser refractive centres constantly inundating consumers with advertising campaigns touting the benefits of laser eye surgery; the fact that it's quick, simple, painless, effective and "If you book now, you could get two eyes done for the price of one," perhaps the majority of people now believe laser eye surgery to be completely risk- and complication-free.

I certainly believe that media campaigns have contributed a great deal to the explosion witnessed by the laser refractive surgery industry in recent years. Question marks still remain, however, over whether after-care and complications management is discussed in sufficient detail in certain clinics.

I would welcome your thoughts on this matter. Do you think it's easy to communicate these messages to your patients or are patients merely interested in hearing about the improvements in their vision? Is there enough time in the working day to discuss everything with the patient, particularly with the advent of new and expensive technologies placing a huge burden on surgeries to perform high volumes of procedures?

I would love to hear what you have to say.

On another note, you may have noticed the competition that we are currently running, offering you the opportunity to win a trip for two to Berlin, in time for this year's ESCRS congress in September. You can enter by simply completing the subscription renewal form within this issue of OTE or by going to http://www.oteurope.com/ and following the instructions from the homepage. The winner will be announced in June.

Good luck!

Fedra PavlouEditorfpavlou@advanstar.com