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The LADARVision® Tragedy: One Victim’s Story

As an ophthalmologist, Dr. Sandra Brown is acutely aware of what can go wrong when a surgical laser is applied to someone’s eyes. She waited a long time before consenting to laser eye surgery to correct her own flawed vision.

Her caution was well-placed. Few people realize that as many as 10% of all laser eye surgery patients are less than satisfied with the results. Many patients are scarred and left with permanent vision problems.

“It’s why I waited for the technology and the surgical procedures to improve,” says Dr. Brown. When a Fort Worth, Texas based company called Alcon, one of the giants in the multi-billion dollar eye care industry, announced the development of an “innovative laser radar tracking technology” called LADARVision®, Dr. Brown decided to take the plunge. She’s regretted her decision ever since.

A surgeon performed LASIK surgery on Dr. Brown in April 2001, using the LADARVision® Excimer Laser System. During the surgery, the laser performed erratically and removed too little tissue in an asymmetrical pattern from Dr. Brown’s eyes. As a result, she has sustained permanent damage to her eyes resulting in limited vision. The harm can’t be reversed by medical or surgical interventions. She has filed a lawsuit against Alcon.

"I specifically waited for the LADARVision® laser machine before having my surgery. For me, the wait cost me my vision,” says Dr. Brown. I will now have to live with the consequences because of a serious defect in Alcon's laser. When I started looking into my problem, I realized that I was not alone and many other people have likewise been hurt by this same problem," says Dr. Brown.

While horror stories associated with laser vision correction are not new, recent disturbing news about the Alcon LADARVision® laser may cause victims to consider whether harm to their eyes was caused by the laser and not doctors and medical staff.

“In the past, poor surgeries were usually blamed on the surgeon,” says Joel Fineberg, one of the attorneys for Dr. Brown. “There is now mounting evidence that the Alcon LADARVision® laser is at the heart of many of these problems.” Surgeons throughout the country are questioning the effectiveness of the laser.

In addition, an article authored by an Alcon consultant in the April 2003 issue of Opthalmology, reveals that patients treated with the LADARVision laser are twice as likely to need follow-up surgery. According to an investigative report in the London Times the rate of required retreatment might be even higher.

“Patients go in expecting to come out with clearer vision, and many times they come out with permanent damage,” says Mr. Fineberg. “What we have here is a company that has decided to ignore serious concerns raised by physicians about an obviously flawed product.”

Health News - Lasers or surgeons: What’s really the cause of high retreatment rates? - Published Saturday, January 1, 2005

Satisfied users of Alcon Inc.’s LADARVision excimer laser abound, but other surgeons are convinced retreatments were too frequent after they used the system.