LASIK SUICIDES

When patients have a serious medical condition such as vision loss, it is natural for them to get depressed. In most cases, vision loss may have been caused by conditions that are beyond the patient’s control. But when LASIK surgery goes wrong, patients must face the fact that they did not just lose their sight because of natural causes or extenuating circumstances. They are haunted by the thought that they actually brought it on themselves and paid someone to take their precious sight away. These feelings can create a great deal of negativity and self-deprecation. These emotions and feelings, combined with the pain and vision problems the patient is experiencing, can lead to depression and even to suicidal thoughts.

Many things can go wrong during a LASIK procedure. Often, a negligent or an unqualified surgeon could botch a LASIK procedure. Patients who experience botched LASIK procedures are more likely to be emotionally devastated than patients who experience complications during other types or surgeries. This is because vision is central to our quality of life. When you cannot see the world as you used to before, life can seem like a burden.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held public hearings in April 2008. The hearings were motivated in part by a small, but alarming number of patients who had committed suicide after LASIK surgery. One man talked about his son, who committed suicide six years after his LASIK surgery left him with severe, painful dry eyes as well as vision problems including starbursts, halos, ghosting, triple images and loss of contrast sensitivity. In his suicide note, the man described how he went deeper and deeper into depression and never came out of it. “If I can’t get my eyes fixed, I’m going to kill myself,” he wrote. And that’s what he did. This distraught patient is not alone. The widow of a police officer from Nashville, Tennessee, asked me to tell a similar story about her husband who killed himself because of the unrelenting physical pain he suffered after his LASIK surgery. His suicide note referred explicitly to his LASIK surgery. Moreover, in each case there was no report of any mental health history before the surgeries.

The LASIK industry has responded that there is no association between LASIK surgery and suicide. It observes that suicide is a complex, multifactorial issue. The industry’s reflexive response ignores the explicit reference to LASIK surgery in the victims’ suicide notes. It also ignores studies that previously associated visual disability with clinical depression. If it is known that patients become depressed from visual disability, why should it matter whether the cause of the visual disability is LASIK surgery, cataracts or glaucoma? Moreover, if it is known and documented that patients with serious visual disabilities become clinically depressed, why is it controversial that some of those clinically depressed patients might become so dependent that they consider suicide.

For other forms of elective surgery, patients have to be screened to confirm their psychiatric and emotional stability. That does not happen with LASIK surgery. Perhaps it should.

The reality is that LASIK surgery is not for everyone. It is in fact not recommended for those with refractive instability – anyone who required a change in their eyeglass prescription in the year prior to surgery. Also, patients with diseases such as HIV or diabetes are not suitable candidates for LASIK surgery. Unfortunately, in a number of cases, surgeons don’t bother to screen their patients properly prior to the procedure. Such negligence has devastating effects on patients — physical, emotional and psychological.

If you or a loved one has suffered the side effects of a poorly done LASIK surgery, if you were not screened properly for pre-existing conditions before your LASIK surgery or if your surgeon botched your LASIK surgery, please contact the Law Office of Todd J. Krouner to find out if you have a case. We will review your medical records with a renowned expert and we will represent you if the liability is clear and your damages are substantial.

You could seek compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of vision, poor-quality vision, loss of life’s enjoyment, loss of income and other related medical expenses. Our firm has also been successful in pleading punitive damages for gross negligence and unlicensed practice of medicine. If you would like to contact us about the merit of your claim, please call The Law Office of Todd J. Krouner at (914) 238-5800 or send an email to info@krounerlaw.com