"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

For some LASIK patients, complications affect mental health

May 9, 2023 – For individuals with poor vision, waking up within the morning without having to instantly seek for glasses or rush to place in touch lenses seems like a dream. That's why LASIK eye surgery – laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis – is one of the vital popular elective surgeries within the United States.

But for the reason that surgery was introduced, increasingly LASIK patients have develop into dissatisfied with their results. While the FDA says the vast majority of LASIK patients are satisfied, some say the surgery has done more harm than good, not only to their vision but additionally to their mental health.

This procedure uses a laser to permanently reshape the cornea and proper nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. According to Current dataand the procedure takes about half-hour (with Cost between $1,500 and $2,500 per eye).

The possible relationship between LASIK and negative mental health effects just isn't a brand new idea. In 2008, during an FDA meetLASIK patients and their families were in a position to share their stories.

One example is the daddy of a LASIK patient who committed suicide at age 28. Gerald Dorrian, the daddy of the late Colin Dorrian, said his son had no history of mental illness before undergoing the procedure for his poor eyesight and astigmatism. Colin Dorrian was warned that his large pupils could potentially increase the chance of long-term unintended effects, but he had the surgery anyway.

Eventually he began to experience problems, seeing overlapping triple vision, halos and a lot of other vision problems. In a final letter read to health officials by Gerald Dorrian, Colin Dorrian wrote: “If I cannot get my eyes treated, I will kill myself. At the time of writing, I have been living like this for six and a half years and it drives me madder every day. … Everything I look at … seems ugly and confusing. I simply cannot accept that I have to live like this.”

Even for the reason that death of Colin Dorrian, the FDA has continued to strongly warn the general public about possible complications of LASIK surgery and urges doctors to be as transparent as possible with potential patients.

The commonest side effect of LASIK is dry eye. Studies have shown that a majority of patients report dry eyes within the weeks and months following surgery, with 95% experiencing dry eyes immediately after surgery. The data shows that dry eyes peak several months after surgery, after which most patients see improvement inside 6 to 12 months.

And although FDA studies have concluded that the overwhelming majority of LASIK patients are satisfied with their surgeries, there stays a smaller but growing number of people that feel that LASIK has caused them lifelong vision impairments. Halos, difficulty driving at night, sensitivity to light, and double vision – all of those can negatively impact patients' quality of life.

Kira Manusis, MD, an ophthalmologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, says that as with every surgery, there are complications with LASIK, however the rate may be very low. And while it's not protocol for doctors to ask patients about their mental health history before the procedure, Manusis says it's obvious that somebody wouldn't be a superb candidate for LASIK in the event that they are available in with “unrealistic expectations” about their vision after surgery.

“Maybe they need follow-up treatment, maybe not, maybe there is a complication [that results in] Vision loss from laser vision correction … but that risk is extremely low,” says Manusis. “So if someone isn't able to understand that or accept it as a possibility, that's a big red flag. That's someone who shouldn't have laser vision correction.”

In summer 2022, the FDA published a Draft guidelines to inform the public about some of the negative consequences of LASIK treatment, including the potential risk of “psychological harm”.

The draft document received greater than 700 Comments from the public, ranging from many happy LASIK patients whose lives have changed for the better, to a smaller group who report that the procedure and its lasting negative effects have placed an enormous psychological burden on their well-being.

Studies have clearly shown that the satisfaction rate for LASIK is high. But as for the rate of LASIK complications, depression and even suicide, “that's currently unknown,” says ophthalmologist Julie Schallhorn, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of San Francisco who specializes in studying the outcomes of refractive surgery for patients.

“LASIK is a quite common procedure. Many people have LASIK every single day. Mental health issues are also quite common within the United States,” Schallhorn said. “Is the undeniable fact that someone who had LASIK had mental health issues due to the LASIK? Or is it just because people have LASIK and have mental health issues and people two things occur to coincide in time?”