Advertisements for Lasik Eye Surgery – When It Sounds Too Good to be True.
In the past, many advertisements for Lasik Eye Surgery have either stated or suggested that the Lasik procedure would eliminate the need for glasses or contacts 'for life.' These claims, according to the FDA, were too general and were unproven. Due to the FDA's efforts, and their considerable power, most of these claims have been toned down, but it's still a good idea not to believe everything you read.
Flowery words in exotic surroundings! Lasik marketing techniques range from flowery words extolling the wonders of being eyeglass free; to images of beautiful people in exotic surroundings, conspicuously not wearing glasses, amidst more flowery words commending more wonders of being eyeglass free. Then there are the testimonials by powerful people, well-known local and national celebrities who try to send you to this Lasik specialist . . . or that one, and enticements abound: raffles, free seminars, coupons, financial incentives for new patient referrals, and promises of lifetime guarantees or 20/20 guarantees that are are misleading. These are just a few of the many techniques that are designed to get prospective patients into the office. The flim-flam may not stop there either, your “Patient Counselor” may be less 'counselor' than highly-trained and well-compensated salesperson.
It's important to note that some of the marketing techniques described above fall in the category of harmless, even acceptable advertising. Many of these techniques, however, are frowned upon by ethical Lasik surgeons as well as by the legitimate, highly-respected organizations that credential Lasik surgeons . . . not to mention the FDA.
The risks of Lasik: As a savvy consumer, you may be able to see through most of the visual and verbal gimmicks that are used to entice you as you try to find the best place to have your Lasik procedure performed; you cannot, however, evaluate information that is not presented in the advertisements. Information describing the risks of Lasik surgery never appears in Lasik advertisements and is, in fact, not required to be there. This is not to suggest that an ethical Lasik practitioner will not explain the risks (or at least the most prevalent risks) of Lasik surgery at the initial consultation, but without having researched the procedure you will not be able to tell if he is being completely candid.
Lasik is a delicate and complex procedure that depends on the precise movements of two pieces of equipment: the microkeratome, a surgical knife, and a computer-controlled excimer laser. At stake are two of the most delicate and complex organs in the human body. Just this brief two-sentence description of Lasik surgery should raise several flags over the possible dangers of Lasik. There is the possibility of hardware or software malfunctions in the equipment and the possibility of operator (surgeon) errors.
A new legal specialty is born. Most of the time, the result of a Lasik procedure satisfies the patient but there is a small percentage of patients who, after the procedure, experience vision problems including anomalies such as halo vision, starbursts and reduced low-light vision that interferes with their ability to drive at night. There are also isolated instances of blindness as a result of errors in Lasik surgery. These types of problems do not always surface immediately after surgery, they will often not appear until the nerves and muscles associated with the eyes prove unable to adjust to the surgery. The percentage of patients who experience post-surgery problems, compared with those whose procedures are successful is not great but it is apparently great enough to have given birth to a new legal specialty, added to the credentials of virtually every injury lawyer is the term: Lasik Injury Law.
Competition is the culprit! Competition between Lasik specialists is fierce and has reached the point where the type of misrepresentation, overstatement, euphemism and sometimes misrepresentation described here have become the rule rather than the exception. The reasons are obvious, if not justified: Lasik equipment is expensive to purchase and maintain, the Lasik surgeon has spent many hours mastering the specialty, the technicians that assist the surgeon are well-paid professionals and there is always rent to be paid for office space. To offset these expenses, Lasik clinics require a steady flow of patients and the pressure of this requirement can easily lead to ambiguous advertising claims.
This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease".
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