LASIK: Another Insider’s Experience… PDF Print E-mail

Name Witheld By Request 

Dear Dom,

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I am a laser tech. I have been for a number of years, and have assisted in over 30,000 procedures with over 20 different surgeons. I have seen it all...

I started as an optician in the early 90’s. I loved my patients and my work. Everything was great until I was forced into having Lasik in 97. I went over to our surgery center after working a full day. I had a manifest by our OD. I never had a dilated exam and took my contacts out right before the manifest and went into surgery with full makeup on. I just didn't know at the time.

The right eye went okay and then the keratome didn't make it all the way across my left eye. I knew something was wrong but the MD took the keratome off and he and the other 2 doctors in the OR left the room and just left me there without saying anything. Two weeks later after trying to question them what went wrong I was let go. They said they were downsizing and eliminating my position. Even though there was an ad in the paper the next week hiring for my position, no attorney would touch my case.

I had a friend at the time that worked for another MD in town that did Lasik and agreed to see me. He ended up hiring me. I was a single mom that went from making $13 an hour and having the beginning of a promising career as an optician, to starting over as a receptionist at $7 an hour. I worked my way back up and became trained on the VISX, B&L Hansatome, NIDEK, and the Nidek keatome, and became an excellent Lasik tech.

I had worked in this industry for 5 years when I had a surgeon request me for a new Lasik center he was opening. I went to work for him and while calibrating the Laser for our first day to use it, I realized it was not an FDA approved laser. The labels were missing off the back, including the serial number. I called my friend who happened to be
the Dr.'s friend and head of customer service/Dr. relations with this particular laser company. I told her what I had found and that it also appeared to be missing a part of the optics. She connected me to the Tech support manager who said he wouldn't use it on a monkey. I called the Dr. privately into his office and told him I would not tech with him using that laser until he had the company come out and trace the serial number, get the mechanical history and have an engineer go through it. He was upset but seemed to respect my opinion. I was fired the next week because I didn't "fit the kind of progressive attitude they wanted at the center", I was devastated. I was now making 53K a year plus bonuses and benefits. I finally found an attorney that would take my case, but in the mean time I could not get a job to save my life. I almost lost my house, my credit was ruined, and I was hanging on by a string, so I settled out of court for 10k and found a job with another laser company I had temped for in the past.

I have lost any chance to be an optician, or ever working for another Lasik company besides the one I have a job with.

I have so much compassion for the patients. I would explain everything the doctors didn't really want them to know. I am all about safety and ethics and I have been in trouble so many times by explaining to a patient after a complication what really happened to them, and what we can do for them. I have shut the laser down in the middle of a surgery because a dr. was going to go ahead and laser over a decentered flap.
I just want you to know that there is someone in the industry that cares about the patient. I have so many stories I could go on forever. If I had my way I would get out of the industry and do something else, but at my age and only a certificate from a technical school, I can't afford to start over. Lasik can be great, but there are so many contraindications for so many people and it is so important that you have a surgeon that sees the whole picture, not just the savings account balance. If I can answer any questions or help in anyway please let me know.


Name withheld by request

The patient's vision (after a lengthly period and enhancement(s) was) correctable to 20/15, but is not without complications. Dry Eye (not seriously debilitating) is the end result.