As a thought experiment, consider:
LASIK surgery in children.
AIMS: To report success in the treatment of high myopia in children with LASIK. To report the visual results, complications and postoperative management of children with high myopia. METHODS: Six children (seven eyes) with high myopia were included in this series. Preoperative and postoperative refraction, visual acuity, and pachymetry were compared. RESULTS: Six children with high myopia ranging from -5.00DS to -16DS were treated. There were three males and three females. Five children had improved refraction and visual acuity post-LASIK. Age ranged from 2 to 12 years. Five of the children had unilateral amblyopia preoperatively. One had bilateral high myopia. CONCLUSION: High myopia in children may be treated safely and effectively with LASIK.
Most Lasik recipients do walk away with crisper vision, and the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery reviewed studies showing about 95 percent of patients say they’re satisfied with their outcome.
But not everyone’s a good candidate, and an unlucky fraction do suffer life-changing side effects: poor vision even with glasses, painful dry eyes, glare or inability to see or drive at night.
How big are the risks? The FDA agrees that about 5 percent of patients are dissatisfied with Lasik. How many struggle daily with side effects? How many are less harmed but unhappy that they couldn’t completely ditch their glasses? The range of effects on patients’ quality of life is a big unknown — and the reason the FDA help a public hearing Friday as part of its new move.
“Clearly there is a group who are not satisfied and do not get the kind of results they expect,” said Dr. Daniel Schultz, the FDA medical device chief. The study should “help us predict who those patients might be before they have the procedure.”
Doctors advise against Lasik for one in four people who seek the surgery, said Dr. Kerry Solomon of the Medical University of South Carolina, who led a review of Lasik’s safety for the ASCRS. Their pupils may be too large or corneas too thin or they may have some other condition that can increase the risk of a poor outcome.
Solomon estimates that fewer than 1 percent of patients have severe complications that leave poor vision.
Should parents have an unchallenged option to choose Lasik surgery for their children for any reason?
Bonus question: Should they have that unchallenged option for only their children of one gender, with the exclusion based on a societal belief such as the (non-)desirability of glasses?