Citing complaints, agency cautions about Lasik

Kyodo

The Consumer Affairs Agency has received 80 health-related complaints, including loss of vision, linked to laser eye surgery since fiscal 2009, the agency revealed Wednesday, urging caution when considering the treatment.

Lasik treatment is used to reshape the cornea to correct farsightedness and astigmatism, but is considered most effective as a long-term treatment for nearsightedness.

The 80 complaints include severe vision loss, as well as eye soreness and headaches.

“We want the patients to give careful consideration by consulting with specialists at medical institutions and take the risk factors into account before deciding on surgery,” an agency representative said.

According to the agency, most of the complaints — more than 20 — were filed by patients claiming overcorrection, including some who said they were suffering headaches or nausea. Other complaints included “severe eye pain that lasted for about two months after the surgery” or “experiencing dry eyes, requiring eyedrops every 10 minutes.”

Separately, in an online survey of Lasik patients conducted by the agency in November, 74 percent of the 600 people contacted said they were satisfied with the outcome. However, 18 percent said the surgery did not meet expectations or the improvement was only temporary. Five percent said their vision was overcorrected.

In all, 43 percent complained of a health problem, even though their eyesight improved as expected. Such complaints included “difficulty seeing in dim light.”

Only half the respondents said they had no problems with their eyesight or anything else health-related.

The agency has informed the health ministry of possibly misleading Internet-based ads posted by Lasik clinics.

The law prohibits exaggerated claims in advertising, such as one clinic that said it had performed more surgeries than any other in the world.

Meanwhile, a group of lawyers said Wednesday they will provide consultations by phone from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 21 for people with problems related to Lasik surgery. The number is 03-6869-8391.