Exposing the LASIK Scam

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 Post subject: Fox News - Living with Lasik - Part 3
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 7:18 pm 
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(Below is an approximate transcript of "Living with Lasik--Part Three", which aired on September 27, 2005.)

Anchor One: If you're considering having laser eye surgery -- or if you're one of the thousands of people who've had the procedure and aren't satisfied with the results --- tonight's FOX Focus may be of particular concern to you.

Anchor Two: Last December, we detailed a series of disturbing complaints being made about one of the most prominent lasers currently in use in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration has now cited the company that makes it with numerous violations, prompting critics to call this machine unsafe. It's a laser you can find in surgical centers throughout the Chicago-area, and tonight our Mark Saxenmeyer is here with an exclusive follow-up. Mark?

Mark on set: Millions of people worldwide are "Living with Lasik" and the majority are quite happy with the results. Yet surgical industry analysts estimate as many as 250,000 Americans now claim to be suffering from some kind of visual complication as a result of it. Determining what exactly went wrong is sometimes difficult--and often impossible to prove. But tonight we focus in on one potential cause--a laser and a company that are now the target of multiple lawsuits and an on-going FDA investigation.

(taped presentation begins)

Voice of laser eye surgeon to a patient: Lie down, head up to the head of the bed

It's a surgery which enables many to throw away their glasses and contacts for good.

Surgeon to patient: The sound you hear is the sound of the laser

A flap is cut open across the eye and a carefully-programmed laser begins vaporizing tissue to correct vision complications.

Surgeon to patient: Just keep looking right there! Beautiful!

It's a two and a half billion dollar a year industry.

Surgeon to patient: Allright you did great!

But sometimes there are horror stories.

Terri Warner: You could hear it powering up. And the red light came on there were like two to four snaps and then there was a hiss, like a small hiss and then there was total silence. There was silence in the whole room.

In July 2004, Terri warner of Savannah, Georgia had laser eye surgery, on a machine like this, the Ladarvision 4000.

Terri Warner: I was told it was of the highest degree of professional machinery that you could get

But just moments after the laser began firing into her right eye, she says her eye surgeon and an assistant began speaking in hushed, worried tones.

Terri Warner: She asked him to re-boot and he said I've already done that. There were more whispers and she said we're just going to put the flap down and try to figure out what went wrong

Several days later Terri was asked to return to re-do the surgery on her right eye, and this time, laser her left as well. A follow-up evaluation revealed excellent vision results with the left, but serious problems with the right.

Terri talking with her daughter: I really can't see

There were inexplicable blisters on her cornea, she says, and despite several additional surgeries to try to fix her right eye....

Terri Warner: As it is now i can't drive my car, I can't, I'm kinda housebound

There are only half a dozen laser vision correction systems currently in use in the United States. The one used on Terri, the Ladarvision, is made and marketed by Alcon--a Texas-based international pharmaceutical company, and the second largest provider of laser systems in the U.S.

Randy Moore: We believe that the laser did not operate as it was programmed to

Attorney Randy Moore is suing Alcon on behalf of a different patient, a Dallas woman who claims a Ladarvision laser malfunctioned during her April 2001 surgery.

Randy Moore: We think the laser did not have enough voltage, did not have enough strength to take away the right amount of tissue.

In court documents Alcon denies its laser was defective. Yet Moore says his client, an ophthalmologist herself, is suffering from some of the most common lasik-related side effects:

Randy Moore: Visual distortions, ghosting, halos and starbursts. She describes it as looking through a dirty window

In fact, many Lasik patients who describe similar problems say they can find nothing--be it glasses or contacts or medications-- to reverse the damage.

Randy Moore: You're permanently impaired for the rest of your life

Alcon is facing other suits as well. This Maryland eye surgeon claims the Ladarvision laser she used in her practice began to experience "erratic machine performance, discrepancies (and) malfunctions" which resulted in patients suffering "severe visual problems". Alcon has filed a motion to dismiss this case.

The Washington State man who filed this suit, claiming that his vision has also been destroyed, settled out of court with Alcon for 90 thousand dollars just days ago. He alleged that Alcon failed to "advise medical professionals of potential problems with the Ladarvision system. Under the terms of the settlement, however, Alcon neither admits nor denies any liability.

According to its web site, Alcon's lasers are currently being used by dozens of eye surgeons throughout northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. Yet when fox news chicago contacted nearly 20 centers to find out just how satisfied they are with their lasers, and with Alcon, every single one of them declined to be interviewed for this report.

Randy Moore: If they've operated on patients and they've gotten bad results, publicizing the bad result may result in litigation for the physician

Legal action aside, the Food and Drug Administration is now turning up the heat on Alcon as well, issuing this warning letter which cities Alcon with "failure to review and evaluate all complaints" involving its Ladarvision lasers--violations that may be "symptomatic of serious problems with your firm's manufacturing and quality assurance."

Terri warner talking to her daughter: This one's good

Yet Terri Warner says it's not good enough.

Terri Warner: Some things are being hidden about this machine and the truth is not coming out.

Alcon finally notified the FDA about the serious injury to Terri Warner's eye 10 months after her surgery. By law, the company is supposed to do it in 30 days.

Terri Warner tucking in her grandson: 'Night Liam

These days, Terri says she spends much of her time seeking out second opinions, trying to find a way to get her vision back.

Terri Warner: I'd like to see my grandson's face clearly-- just little things that you miss, you know


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