Roles and Responsibilities –
The FTC

You have probably noticed lengthy disclosures in ads for prescription drugs and medical devices explaining contraindications, risks, and possible side effects of a product or procedure. You won't find these disclosures in ads for LASIK surgery. LASIK ads promote proposed benefits of LASIK with no mention of potential adverse effects.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires specific disclosures for ads which promote a particular brand of FDA-approved laser for LASIK. For this reason, consumer-targeted LASIK ads do not mentiona specific laser—they promote a surgical center or physician’s practice. Still, such ads are subject to consumer protection laws which prohibit false or misleading advertising. Enforcement of these laws is the responsibility of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC updated its LASIK marketing guidelines in October 2008. The new FTC guidelines require that LASIK ads which expressly state or imply that LASIK is “safe” must also state that the surgery has risks and potential complications. Also claims regarding the effectiveness of LASIK must now be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The familiar phrase “throw away your glasses” seen in many LASIK ads is considered deceptive advertisement under the FTC guidelines.

How to report a problem

To file a complaint with the FTC for false or misleading LASIK advertising, use the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant.

File a Complaint Assistant report »