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November/December 2008

 
Letters
 
 

Independence Through LASIK 

Upon becoming aware of the FDA hearing on LASIK this spring, I thought I should let you know about my experience with the surgery.

On June 9, 2006, I was involved in an unfortunate lifeguarding accident that left me quadriplegic. I was suddenly faced with many challenges that I had never imagined experiencing. Day-to-day tasks such as changing contact lenses were no longer something that I could take for granted.

During my stay at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, I became aware of the work of Focus on Independence, an organization that provides laser or surgical vision correction at no cost to individuals paralyzed by spinal cord injuries.

Before my injury, I had spent some time studying the risks of the procedure. Given that more than 90 percent of patients were happy with the results, it seemed that the benefits outweighed the risks. As I looked more into the work of Focus on Independence, I was put into contact with the office of Dr. Shachar Tauber, who determined that I was a candidate for surgery.

My entire experience, from the evaluation through the surgery, was extremely pleasant. Dr. Tauber and his staff were very up-front about all of the risks and potential complications. In the period between my evaluation and the surgery, I spent a lot of time thinking through the what-ifs of the procedure and about how further limitations could affect my life. I always came back to the same statistics regarding the safety of LASIK and really found again the benefits far outweighed the risks.

At every one of my follow-ups, my vision has been 20/20 or better, and I haven’t had any difficulties with night vision or dry eye.

Anecdotal evidence should be taken as just that and nothing more. The negative stories that were published and aired as I prepared for surgery in no way swayed me from my decision. My surgeon spent enough time going over all of the possible outcomes to allow me to proceed confidently.

Throughout my recovery from my injury, I have been advised to limit the impact of the disability in my life, and LASIK has permitted me to do just that.

Mark Grantham
Springfield, Mo.

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LASIK: Benefits and Risks 

I enjoyed the perspective presented by Dr. Richard Mills in the July/August Opinion (“LASIK Under Siege: A Battle Over Fact or Perception?”). First, he notes the overall 95 percent success rate with LASIK. He then questions whether the relatively low rate of serious vision-threatening events should be a public concern.

Any therapeutic intervention carries with it benefits and risks. The FDA’s legal charter is to judge whether the medical benefits of a device, drug or biologic outweigh the risks. Given that the public perception of relative risks is notoriously poor (e.g., the relative safety of automobile vs. airline travel),1 one can only hope that the additional research to be conducted by the NEI on LASIK will be used to provide an informed regulatory and educational decision, rather than the unfortunate anecdotal reports.

Gary D. Novack, PhD
San Rafael, Calif.


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1 Urquhart, J. and K. Heilmann. Risk Watch: The Odds of Life (New York, N.Y.: Facts on File, 1984).

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An Important Pioneer 

Your story “Osteopathic Physicians in Eye Medicine” (Feature, June) overlooked a significant member of that community, Seymour Kessler, DO.

Dr. Kessler was my colleague, friend and a fellow resident from 1972 to 1975 at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (now Wills Eye Institute). Initially, he was in general practice. He then became the first osteopathic physician admitted to an MD ophthalmology residency and the first osteopathic physician to be certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He later practiced in the Philadelphia region where he was chief of ophthalmology at Delaware Valley Hospital. He also was involved in resident training at the Pennsylvania College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Kessler was truly an outstanding clinician and mentor of residents.

I also recall an example reflecting his great humor. During a scleral buckling case, he sterilized a deck of cards and played solitaire on a Mayo stand . . . he was on the low end of the resident hierarchy at the time.

David S. C. Pao, MD
Southampton, Pa.

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