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News and Views, Issue #1

 

 

Initiatives

Approximately 8 million Americans have undergone LASIK eye surgery. All LASIK patients will require preoperative medical records for future eye care. But LASIK surgeons fail to provide patients with records unless patients make a formal request; and state laws only require that medical records be maintained for five to seven years. By the time a LASIK patient learns the importance of preoperative medical information to preserve future vision and eye health, these records may have already been destroyed.

How will LASIK affect future eye care?

Cataracts form when the natural lens inside the eye becomes cloudy, most commonly as a result of the aging process. Most people will eventually require cataract surgery to restore good vision. Cataract surgery is performed by removing the cloudy natural lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens. Prior to surgery, the surgeon takes measurements of the cornea to calculate the appropriate intraocular lens (IOL) power. Changes in corneal shape caused by LASIK eye surgery result in inaccurate IOL power calculations, which may lead to a poor visual outcome after cataract surgery.

Intraocular pressure (IOP) measurements are performed during routine eye exams to screen for glaucoma. Alterations to the cornea by LASIK result in falsely low IOP measurements. Therefore, vision-threatening glaucoma may go undiagnosed and untreated in patients who have had LASIK surgery.

Problems with post-LASIK cataract surgery and glaucoma screening have been known by eye doctors for years. Countless articles on these problems have been published in medical journals.

Various formulas using preoperative data have been proposed to adjust for changes to the cornea after LASIK, making historical data a valuable tool for eye doctors who treat post-LASIK patients.

How can this problem be solved before millions of patients’ records are destroyed?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must immediately issue an advisory concerning this urgent public health matter, informing the public of the risk of poor outcome from cataract surgery and undiagnosed glaucoma after LASIK, and instructing LASIK patients to request their medical records from their LASIK surgeons. This action should be followed by the establishment of a retrospective national LASIK patient registry which archives patient data to safeguard vision of the millions of at-risk Americans who have had LASIK surgery.

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