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February 16, 2012

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

LASIK safe, experts say despite doctor's finding

LOCAL optical experts reassured patients that laser eye surgery, or LASIK, is the safest method to treat adult myopia after one of Taiwan's leading eye experts said he will stop LASIK procedures after witnessing complications in 10 cases.

Ray Tsai's statement caused controversy in the industry and even shook the stock price of certain eye hospitals featuring LASIK surgery yesterday.

Tsai, one of Taiwan's pioneers in laser eye surgery, told a newspaper on Tuesday that he will no longer perform LASIK because it violates his medical ethics, after he observed some 10 cases in which visual acuity worsened suddenly long after the LASIK procedure.

Tsai believes the vision loss is linked to post-surgery corneal inflammation and said these typical patients are between the ages of 40 and 50. He explained later that LASIK is the still safest myopia treatment. But the cost in time on pre-surgery consultation and the rising cost of equipment made him stop LASIK surgery.

He said patients with serious complications usually have chronic eye inflammation, which is difficult to spot before surgery.

Moreover, he usually spends a long time on pre-surgery consultation and informs patients of all possible adverse reactions, causing many to change their minds.

"It is against my ethics to not tell them all the possible consequences," he said, likening it to cheating in order to do more business. "After a full consideration, I decided to quit LASIK."

Dr Chu Renyuan, director of the myopia key laboratory under the Ministry of Health and director of Shanghai optical treatment quality-control center, said LASIK is the only therapy allowing adults with myopia to drop glasses.

"But no therapy is perfect," he said. "The key is the equipment, doctor's skill and proper screening of patients."

He said there are 23 hospitals performing LASIK surgery in the city. The control center checks the equipment every year and installs an automatic recording system. In 2000, the center found some hospitals were using the same blade on two or three patients and started mandating that each blade be used on only one patient to avoid infection.

"About 30,000 patients underwent LASIK surgery in Shanghai last year," Chu said. "There was not one case with infection or suffering complications."

Officials from the Shanghai Health Bureau said patients should go to big hospitals for careful checkup and consultation before receiving surgery.


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