Is LASIK Safe? Top LASIK Experts Respond to ABC Television News Story Featuring Dr. Morris Waxler’s Criticism of LASIK Surgery

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Trusted LASIK Surgeons (http://www.TrustedLASIKSurgeons.com) asked several LASIK experts to respond to an ABC News Story on LASIK. In their response, these LASIK experts addressed safety and satisfaction concerning LASIK and pointed to their own experience and research studies that show patients are generally satisfied with LASIK.

Trusted LASIK Surgeons and several highly-regarded expert LASIK surgeons respond to a recent ABC television news segment entitled “Hindsight 20/20: LASIK Surgery Now Unsafe?” and address safety and satisfaction issues regarding LASIK surgery.

The ABC news story featured Morris Waxler, PhD, a former member of the FDA panel that helped promote LASIK in 1995 who now criticizes LASIK. When asked if he would “ever recommend LASIK surgery to someone you cared about,” Dr. Waxler replied “absolutely not.”

R. Doyle Stulting, M.D., P.h.D., George O Waring III, M.D., James J. Salz, M.D., James McCulley, M.D., Douglas Koch, M.D., Jayne Weiss, M.D., and Marian Macsai, M.D., all LASIK experts with proven expertise, strongly disagreed with this opinion. Their collective response is provided below:

“Modern medicine – including LASIK – is practiced based on the evidence presented to physicians and surgeons in peer-reviewed medical literature, which means these articles have gone through tough evaluation and revision to present the scientific basis for treating patients. We believe every patient wants their doctor to be as scientifically well informed as possible when administering treatment and surgery. Physicians who treat patients based on word of mouth, news reports, blogs, and similar informal media do a disservice to the practice of medicine.”

Furthermore, responsible medical practice is not swayed by individuals who shout loudly and present erroneous information on the Internet and in the news media – individuals like Morris Waxler, PhD, who has claimed that some 50% of LASIK patients experience side effects. We believe he has no reputable basis for such a claim since he did not produce the scientific evidence. Surely, there are patients with adverse results after LASIK; indeed, such cases are reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Falsely exaggerating their numbers serves no one’s interest – except those with an agenda not based upon current and accurate scientific research.

The ABC news story did not offer an opinion from an eye surgeon who has actually performed LASIK (Dr. Waxler is not a medical doctor). Between us, we have over fifty thousand laser vision correction surgery procedures and have participated in multiple FDA clinical studies which led to the approval of LASIK for correction of nearsightedness and farsightedness with astigmatism. These FDA studies were sponsored by manufacturers of lasers and other technologies such as Alcon, Visx, Bausch & Lomb, Nidek, Summit and Autonomous Excimer Laser systems. Dr. Doyle Stulting, Dr. James McCulley, and Dr. Jayne Weiss served as the Chairs of the FDA Ophthalmic Advisory panel during most of the term served by Dr. Morris Waxler and Dr. Marian Macsai was a member of this panel. Dr. George Waring, Dr. Douglas Koch and Dr. James Salz presented the results of FDA studies numerous times during Dr. Waxler’s term.”

If people should “absolutely not” have LASIK surgery under any circumstances as suggested by Dr. Waxler to ABC news, what do LASIK patients say? Are patients satisfied with LASIK?

Based on available studies, the answer is clearly “yes.” In 2009, Dr. Kerry Solomon and colleagues published a paper that is widely considered to be the most thorough evaluation of the results of LASIK (1). Dr. Solomon and his colleagues reviewed the world literature on LASIK, which consisted of over 1,581 articles from more than 20 countries published between 1988 and 2008. The evidence demonstrated that 95.4% of patients were “satisfied or very satisfied” with the results of LASIK. This article was published in Ophthalmology, the highly respected official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (see Solomon KD, Fernández de Castro LE, Sandoval HP, et el. LASIK world literature review: quality of life and patient satisfaction. Ophthalmology. 2009;116:691-701).

What about side effects from LASIK, as pointed out in the ABC news story? Should patients be concerned about, halos, starbursts, and blurred vision that can result from LASIK?

According to the LASIK experts cited above, “most people who wear contact lenses or eyeglasses experience side effects like halos, glare, or starbursts to some degree. Recent studies using improved laser systems with wavefront technology have shown that these side effects are not significantly increased and are often decreased following LASIK. That is not to imply these risks do not exist, as some patients may experience an increase in these side effects even with wavefront-based laser vision correction surgery.”

In addition to Dr. Waxler’s recent appearance on ABC Television, he also authored an article entitled “While Listening to Industry, CDRH Flexes Muscle,” by Jim Dickinson, published in the July, 2010 on-line edition of MDDI and mailed a letter critical of LASIK to Dr. Doyle Stulting.

Dr. Stulting, who was the Chair of the Ophthalmic Advisor Panel for three years during Dr. Waxler’s tenure, and is the current president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, responded to in September 2010 to Dr. Waxler’s claims concerning LASIK in a recent letter. According to Dr. Stulting, Dr. Waxler’s current view of LASIK is “misinformed, unsupported by evidence, and lacking in balance and perspective.”

Among other relevant points made by Dr. Stulting in his letter were the following:

To accurately determine the rate of side effects that are due to LASIK, it is necessary to use recent studies and not refer to studies that are clearly outdated, such as those regarding lasers that do not have the advanced technologies used today. “Advances in technology and techniques based on scientifically based studies have allowed the profession continually to improve the safety of LASIK. This is clearly a procedure that should be made available to patients who are properly informed about its risks and benefits,” wrote Dr. Stulting.

In Dr. Stulting’s opinion, LASIK has a “low complication rate that is acceptable to many patients and comparable to that of contact lenses over a lifetime.” LASIK has also “served to reduce or eliminate dependency on glasses and contact lenses for millions of patients around the world and has been found by the US government to be acceptable for use by military personnel and astronauts.”

Dr. Stulting's responses serve as a useful resource for anyone interested in LASIK.
The relevant excerpts of Dr. Stulting’s letter responding to Dr. Waxler’s claims about LASIK are provided as an attachment to this press release or may be accessed through the following link: Is LASIK Safe? A LASIK Expert Responds.

Trusted LASIK Surgeons believes Dr. Stulting’s letter illustrates the value of an expert opinion. In presenting different views, including the opinion of a professionally recognized LASIK expert like Dr. Stulting can better serve the public good.

The LASIK experts who responded above believe it is extremely important for anyone considering LASIK to make an informed decision based on accurate information.

To learn more please visit Is LASIK Safe? at Trusted LASIK Surgeons.

For why consumers should consider a LASIK surgeon featured in the Trusted LASIK Surgeons Directory for their vision correction needs, please visit Why Choose a Surgeon from the Trusted LASIK Surgeon's Directory?

The screening process and standards used by Trusted LASIK Surgeons to qualify surgeons are located at How Are LASIK and Cataract Surgeons Qualified at Trusted LASIK Surgeons?

To find a qualified LASIK, refractive, or cataract surgeon with proven expertise nearest to you, please visit Trusted LASIK Surgeons Directory

About Trusted LASIK Surgeons, Inc.

Trusted LASIK Surgeons, Inc. (Trusted LASIK Surgeons) is a premier LASIK, refractive and cataract surgeon directory service that screens all LASIK and cataract surgeons profiled in our directory based on professional credentials and experience. Most surgeons featured in our directory have been professionally recognized for their expertise and many have made contributions toward significant advances in laser vision correction or other refractive surgery procedures, or in other fields of ophthalmology. To learn more, please visit http://www.TrustedLASIKSurgeons.com.

Trusted LASIK Surgeons, Inc.
(800) 483-8028

Source: Trusted LASIK Surgeons

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James J. Salz, M.D.
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