Depression and Suicide after LASIK

Max Cronin

Dr. Edward Boshnick: "Over the years I've had the misfortune of examining hundreds of patients who have lost quality vision and suffered severe depression as a result of LASIK surgery. Two of these patients were so depressed by their post-surgical vision loss that they attempted suicide. In fact, there are several documented cases of post-lasik suicides."
Source: A Few Words About LASIK

Dr. Arthur B. Epstein: ... many of us in the contact lens community have spent untold hours trying to help patients who have had their lives literally destroyed by LASIK. Source: Review of Optometry, November 2006

OSN Supersite 5/19/2009: Dr. Lawless said his practice has amended its essential clause to include language about the risk of possible psychological damage from an ideal or less-than-ideal refractive surgery procedure in response to last year's U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel meeting on LASIK safety, which examined quality-of-life issues as well as reported psychological damage resulting from poor LASIK outcomes in patients.

We are presenting this information because people, particularly prospective LASIK patients, need to know that LASIK complications may have a profound negative impact on quality of life. If you are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts after LASIK, please get professional help. If you are in crises and need immediate help, click here, call 1-800-273-8255, or call 911.

Want to share your feelings with others who've been there and understand? Join the discussion on FaceBook.

If you experienced a bad outcome from LASIK with associated depression or thoughts of suicide, please file a MedWatch report with the FDA online. Alternatively, you may call FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 to report by telephone, download the paper form and either fax it to 1-800-FDA-0178 or mail it to the address shown at the bottom of page 3, or download the MedWatcher Mobile App for reporting LASIK problems to the FDA using a smart phone or tablet.

ARE YOU CONSIDERING LASIK OR ANOTHER FORM OF VISION CORRECTION SURGERY? Please consider this. There have been over 30 Lasik-related suicides and countless anecdotal reports of Lasik-related depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. In 2008, the FDA called a special public hearing on Lasik after injured Lasik patients complained to the agency. In the weeks leading up to the hearing, the media reported stories of Lasik-related suicides and poor outcomes. At the hearing, leading Lasik surgeons, in a concerted effort to protect the public perception of Lasik, lined up to testify that Lasik cannot lead to depression or suicide. The Lasik industry even hired a psychiatrist, Jennifer Morse, MD, to testify that patients who are depressed after Lasik were already depressed before Lasik, and that there is no scientific evidence of any direct link between Lasik and depression or suicide. Morse was even quoted in an October, 2008 issue of EyeWorld magazine saying that unhappy Lasik patients have good Lasik results but defective brains (David Laber. Depressed patients can struggle coping with post-Lasik. EyeWorld. October 2008.). Physicians in every other medical specialty must acknowledge and address surgical complications or face lawsuits, discipline by state medical boards, and loss of medical license. In the field of Lasik, surgeons readily lie to protect themselves, their colleagues, and the Lasik gravy train. Below is a link to a February, 2016 review of the body of medical literature on surgical complications (all types of surgery) and their impact on patients’ psychosocial well-being. The conclusion states, "Surgical complications appear to be a significant and often long-term predictor of patient postoperative psychosocial outcomes. The results highlight the importance of attending to patients’ psychological needs in the aftermath of surgical complications." Be warned, if you experience problems after laser eye surgery, your surgeon will almost certainly downplay or dismiss your concerns. If you continue to complain, you will likely be met with animosity and eventual abandonment. Because Lasik is completely unnecessary and carries significant risk to a vital sensory organ, the Lasik industry will do whatever is necessary to conceal the problems. Please read the following article and consider the psychological toll that surgical complications take on patients. Lasik is no different. Are you willing to accept this hidden risk of Lasik?

Pinto et al. Surgical complications and their impact on patients’ psychosocial well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2016 Feb 16;6(2):e007224.

The patients who regret laser eye surgery - The Guardian 4/18/2023

From the article: Four years later, after experiencing debilitating complications from the procedure that left [Gloria McConnell] unable to leave bed most days, McConnell died by suicide at the age of 60. Her son [Kingsly] said that in a note she left to her family, McConnell wrote that the pain of the botched Lasik surgery had contributed her decision to end her life. Kingsly describes his mother as fun and youthful before she had the surgeries. The complications crept into McConnell’s life a few weeks after her surgery, but she tried to stay positive. Still, as things continued to grow worse, she became a shut-in, Kingsly said. Her main issue was chronic dry eyes, to the point that she told people it felt like her lids were burning. She also suffered from corneal neuralgia, which is caused by damage to the nerves of the cornea. Read article

Eye surgery warning from widow of man who died by suicide - CTV News 1/16/2019

From the article: The suicide note Tim Fentem wrote contained an apology and an explanation.

"My eyes are wrecked," the husband and father of two wrote before his death by suicide in 2016.

Tim Fentem’s wife Lori told CTV News she was devastated, but not shocked, at his death by suicide in July of 2016, after watching him, for years, suffering complications related to the eye surgery called Radial Keratotomy or RK.

Lori Fentem is now sharing her late husband’s tragic story, after hearing of other cases of suicide in the wake of refractive eye surgery. Continue reading

Detroit meteorologist Jessica Starr's death by suicide puts focus on Lasik safety - USA Today 12/18/2018

From the article: A month before taking her own life Dec. 12, Jessica Starr, a meteorologist for a Detroit TV station, shared that she was still struggling with complications such as dry eyes and blurred vision from her Lasik-type eye surgery in October.

"I do still need all the prayers and the well-wishes because it’s a hard go," Starr, 35, the Fox 2 Detroit (WJBK-TV) meteorologist and mother of two young children, said in a video on her public Facebook page. Continue reading

Watch video that Jessica Starr posted on Facebook shortly before her death.

Jessica Starr's family tell her story to CTV W5 news magazine television program - 4/6/2019

Painful side-effects from laser eye surgery linked to man's suicide - CTV News 11/28/2018

From the article: After enduring debilitating eye pain for more than two decades, an Ontario man took his own life in what his family says was an act of desperation to end the suffering caused by complications from laser eye surgery.

The family of Paul Fitzpatrick spoke to CTV News following a W5 investigation last month into the occurrence of a rare, but painful side-effect of laser eye surgery that has left some patients in severe, chronic pain.

The complication, known as corneal neuralgia, can cause nerve damage to the eye and can be so excruciating that some patients were unable to work or in some cases, contemplated suicide. Continue reading

2018 Case report: Young man attempts suicide after a domino effect of LASIK complications

Webmaster's review of the article: A 19 year old man underwent LASIK in both eyes. Three days later he reported blurred vision and underwent surgery to lift his flaps and irrigate the flap-corneal interface. Five days later he was treated for high intraocular pressure (IOP). One month after LASIK surgery, he sought treatment at another eye clinic for loss of vision (legal blindness) and eye pain. He was diagnosed with, and treated for, extremely high IOP and fluid accumulation under the LASIK flaps. Thirty days later the man's vision had partially improved, and his IOP had come down, and the fluid in the interface had resolved. However, 3 months later he had developed epithelial ingrowth (cells growing under the flap), cataracts in both eyes, and glaucoma. Months later his IOP was elevated again and his vision had dropped. He was surgically implanted with a glaucoma valve in both eyes. The man was referred to a psychiatrist because he was severely depressed and attempted suicide.

Source: Cabral-Macias et al. Pressure-induced stromal keratopathy after laser in situ keratomileusis: Acute and late-onset presentations. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2018 Oct;44(10):1284-1290.

2015 Case report: Suicide after Excimer Laser Refractive Surgery

Webmaster's review of the article: A young man underwent laser eye surgery for myopia on both eyes. A few weeks after seemingly successful surgery the man became severely depressed and went to the emergency ward of an eye clinic. He was upset by the visual outcome of his surgery and complained of dryness and irritation. He was prescribed lubricating drops and ointments.

A few weeks later the man again went to the eye clinic at night in a dire state of depression and reported that his vision was interfering with his ability to function. He was advised to try glasses.

The man went to the eye clinic again a few weeks later, again during the middle of the night, again severely depressed. He was offered psychological counseling, which he declined. He left the clinic promising to return the next morning, but he never returned. He committed suicide.

Source: Setten, G. (2015) Suicide after Excimer Laser Refractive Surgery: On the Importance of Matching Expectations. Open Journal of Ophthalmology, 5, 145-148. doi: 10.4236/ojoph.2015.53022.

Suicidal LASIK patient files report with FDA , had LASIK in 2016 - 4/6/2017

I had the LASIK eye surgery and I have been suicidal and depressed since the surgery. Before LASIK I had no eye problems whatsoever. I used the same glasses for 10 years. I went to one of the best ophthalmologists in my area and he used the most up to date technology and I paid a very high price. I was never warned about any of the debilitating side effects that I experienced after LASIK. I am young and I have had nothing but eye problems since I had lasik. They told me that I would only experience halos and dry eye for no more than a few weeks and I would have "HD" vision. I cannot believe how unregulated this procedure is and how [the FDA] have failed in informing and protecting the public. They told me that I was a perfect candidate. Continue reading

Law enforcement officer suicidal after LASIK, files report with FDA 8/5/2017

Had Lasik surgery in 2001, at [redacted by FDA] y/o and "was a perfect candidate" doctor [redacted by FDA] said. Had severe corneal ectasia went blind after. Had corneal transplant in 2003. Lens implanted in 2004. Many subsequent surgeries since. Lasik completely destroyed my life. I have lost years of work as a deputy sheriff and was taken off the street due to vision. I have held my service revolver to my head several times contemplating suicide. I have daily debilitating headaches and severe dry eyes. I have even had my blood made in eye serum drops out of desperation for my eyes. Nothing works including many specialty contact fitting attempts. I am more suicidal than ever and know it will happen when I get the courage to do so. The Lasik doctors knew this surgery was extremely dangerous but didn't care because it was a billion dollar industry. They lied to the FDA minimizing the side effects (the FDA board chairman who approved Lasik later testified to this) and complications of this surgery. LasikPlus informed me the worst side effect of this surgery was slight glare and dry eyes which would go away within a year. That was blatant lie and they knew it.

Link to report

Report filed with FDA by suicidal LASIK patient's husband - 2/7/2017

Six years post-LASIK, my wife was diagnosed with corneal ectasia after developing severe headaches, severe dry eye, and severe eye pain and vision problems (distortions, halo, extreme photosensitivity, shadows, ghostings, loss of night vision, and more); she lost her job as an IT professional because she was unable to perform duties as a result of these issues, developed severe depression and anxiety and was suicidal; she has not recovered emotionally from the catastrophic outcome of this procedure.

Link to report

Case Report: Man hospitalized 2 months after Lasik with psychosis and thoughts of suicide

Conroy MA, Duran PA, Avery JD. A Case of New-Onset Psychosis Following Laser In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) Eye Surgery. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2016 Sep 22;18(5).

Excerpt: Visual changes after laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery leading to patient dissatisfaction, such as decreased contrast sensitivity, poor distance vision, glare, and halos, are well described in the literature. Although there is a plethora of community forums and individual testimonies describing the development of depressive symptoms in reaction to post-LASIK visual changes, there is a paucity of published reports describing mental health sequelae following this procedure. Furthermore, no literature to our knowledge has described the development of psychosis following LASIK surgery. We report the case of a man who developed first-onset psychotic symptoms following the procedure.

Continue reading

Case Report: Corneal Neuralgia after LASIK Leading to Thoughts of Suicide

Theophanous et al. Corneal Neuralgia after LASIK. Optom Vis Sci. 2015 Jul 3.

Excerpt: A 42-year-old man with a history of [high cholesterol] underwent LASIK [in both eyes]. He presented to Boston Foundation for Sight (BFS) 10 months later with a detailed timeline of his own clinical course as follows: Immediately after the procedure, he had a burning sensation in both eyes. Within several weeks, he had noted symptoms of light sensitivity, halo effect, and extreme dry eye. He was initially treated with topical cyclosporine (Restasis, Allergan, Irvine, CA) twice per day, preservative-free lubricating drops throughout the day, and punctal occlusion. These measures substantially reduced his symptoms in the left eye by 2 to 3 months after LASIK; symptoms in the right eye persisted with notation of continued achy, sore pain with tearing that worsened throughout the day, sensitivity to sunlight, blurriness, and dryness. His symptoms in the right eye were subsequently treated with warm compresses twice per day, moisture chamber goggles during the day, ointment thrice per day and nightly, oral cetirizine, trial of bandage soft lenses, and a daytime eye patch, offering limited relief. Doxycycline 100 mg by mouth daily was also prescribed for mild blepharitis. During this treatment period, the patient developed depression and ultimately was hospitalized for suicidal ideation, which he reported was driven by his eye pain.

Link to abstract

Suicidal patient, had Lasik in 2011. Report filed with the FDA on 5/22/2016

I had Lasik 5 years back and it burns like "profanity". Feel I should commit suicide, got conjunctivitis and the conditions worsened. I'm fed up, using tears natural and a steroid. Please help.

Link to report

Mother reports 2016 suicide of son to the FDA - 1/14/2016

My son, [redacted by FDA], committed suicide [redacted by FDA] 2016 by a self-inflicted gunshot wound in [redacted by FDA]. He wrote suicide notes stating he killed himself because [redacted by FDA] ruined his eyes from a PRK procedure (a type of LASIK eye procedure) and thus ruined his life. My son, [redacted by FDA], was [redacted by FDA]. He was pursuing his college degree at [redacted by FDA]. His career was in petroleum engineering. He had had a problem with depression in his early teens, but had been stable without problems until after his deployment to fight in [redacted by FDA]. [redacted by FDA] had an uncomplicated LASIK surgery through [redacted by FDA] approximately 5 years ago, in 2010, with eventual deterioration of his vision in [redacted by FDA] 2015. He had a PRK procedure [redacted by FDA] 2015, by Dr. [redacted by FDA]. He had a minimal history and physical prior to the procedure. There was no information on my son's diagnosis of ptsd, anxiety, learning disability, or depression. There was no identification of the medications he was taking. Post procedure, he experienced persistent eye pain, dry eyes, and eventually loss of his eyesight to 100/20. His loss of his vision in [redacted by FDA] 2015, resulting in him not being able to visualize adequately to continue his classes and he was unable to obtain employment for his loss of vision. He repetitively saw Dr. [redacted by FDA] who continued "conservative management", despite my son deteriorating psychologically. His post operative care included a physician antagonistic to my son, with no referral to another physician, to blaming the patient for the complication, and ultimately the patient feeling hopeless and suicidal. This eye laser complication placed my son in economic distress and immediately resulted in deterioration psychologically. He wrote suicide letters stating he was killing himself due to his ruined eyes by Dr. [redacted by FDA]. I am a board certified ob/gyn, which includes board certification as a surgeon. I am horrified at the LASIK false promotion of a "safe procedure", when, in reality, lives have been destroyed with medical physicians placing monetary gains over the health care of patients. After my horrific loss of my son from his loss of vision from this PRK, LASIK procedure of his eyes, i have been even more horrified of the complications and suicides related to loss of vision from elected LASIK procedures, the devastations to lives that have incurred complications, the common complications not declared to patients, and the scant medical awareness of the patients by the physicians prior to these procedures. Link to report


Editor's note: In April, 2016, we learned the identity of this suicide victim through his mother who reached out to us. In the hopes of preventing another tragedy, she has decided to share her son's story. Read In Memory of Max Cronin.

Patient suicidal after Lasik in 2011, calls FDA to file report 9/29/2015

Caller advised he had Lasik surgery at [redacted by FDA] on [redacted by FDA] 2011. Surgeon mentioned potential adverse effects which was supposed to be temporary. "My life has been a complete nightmare after the surgery". Caller fell into a deep depression with suicidal thoughts and is currently on medication for depression and also seeing a therapist. Caller is still experiencing night vision problems which include blurred vision, glare, halos, diplopia in the left eye and distorted vision in the right eye (sees four different images when looking at one image) and dry eyes. Caller advised lasik eye surgery is very dangerous and was never warned about the psychological effect the surgery will have on him. Link to report

Suicidal patient had Lasik in 2014. Filed report with FDA 9/8/2015

Excerpt: I had to leave my job because my eyes hurt all the time and I can no longer look at a computer screen while maintaining customer service and my other job responsibilities [redaced by FDA]. My social life has completely eroded and my personal prospects have been lost. If I did not have the support of my family, there would be nothing to prevent me from falling into a deeper depression than I already am. Suicidal ideation is something that I am now all too familiar with. My life has completely deteriorated because my eyes have been severely damaged by a unnecessary and very much corrupt procedure and industry. And my life was good. I was happy. I did not ask for this, nor was I even aware that it could actually happen. Lasik has been the worst decision of my life and I regret it every day and surely will continue to regret until the day I die. Read full report here

Lasik eye surgery recipients sue clinic operators. The Japan Times - 12/18/2014

From the article: Twelve people who had undergone laser eye surgery sued two Tokyo-based clinic operators Wednesday, saying the Lasik surgery left them with health problems such as dry eyes and eye strain...

Hitomi Terada, 60, told a news conference on Wednesday that she has suffered from consistent burning pain and has to apply a cooling pad every few minutes just to cope. “I can’t open my eyes like before and I have contemplated killing myself,” she said.

Read article

Suicidal LASIK patient files report with FDA - 8/10/2014

I had LASIK done 6 months ago. The outcome has changed my life forever. I now have terrible night vision, which now includes huge starburst and glare. My eyes really aren't dry, so I guess I dodged that bullet. The worst thing about it is that fixing my night vision problems would now require a hard rigid lenses designed custom made for my eyes, which may not even fix my problems. Before I had perfect vision with contact lenses. What a terrible mistake I have made. I am only [redacted by FDA] and now for the rest of my life I have to right this devastating condition. Why is LASIK even legal, why was I not told directly by the doctors that my large pupil would cause poor night vision? I would give every dime to my name to get my old crappy eyes back that were fixed perfectly with contact lenses. I have considered suicide on several occasions. I have never ever been suicidal my entire life. I am now on antidepressants which I know is the only reason I am here today explaining my struggle. I can no longer enjoy my nights out with my friends, I can't go anywhere at night without a horrible headache from trying to see. I pray and pray that they will find a way to cure this condition. Please shut down LASIK. Link to report

Twenty years after Lasik, suicidal patient files report with FDA 8/7/2015

I was operated for myopia and astigmatism in 1995 (I had 15 diopters). Since then, I suffer irreversible sequela: halos, glare, flashes, depression with the intent of suicide, reduction on the sensibility to contrast, blurred nocturnal vision and artifical light. I cannot drive at night, I have problems reading or working with the computer, headache, ocular hypertension, cataracts. All this prevented me to have a normal life and work. Link to report

Suicidal LASIK patient files report with FDA - 7/27/2014

I had LASIK on [redacted by FDA] at Laser Vision [redacted by FDA], the doctor was [redacted by FDA]. I was [redacted by FDA]. On [redacted by FDA] 2014 I have been diagnosed with severe dry eye due to the surgery. I am on depression with suicidal thoughts. [redacted by FDA]. Link to report

HUNDREDS of people say their lives have been blighted by laser eye surgery - Daily Star 4/6/2014

From the article: Freelance camera technician Craig Mellor had Lasik laser surgery after visiting an Optical Express store in Manchester. The 42-year-old suffered a complication after the first op and needed corrective surgery the next day for a crease in his left eye. But his condition worsened and five years on, after several more ops, he has virtually no sight in his left eye and limited vision in his right. Doctors have now told him nothing can be done to restore his sight. He said: “It’s really affected my career. "I have contemplated suicide.”

Read article

Editor's note: Dr. Steve Schallhorn, Optical Express Chief Medical Director, has denied any link between a bad outcome from LASIK and suicide. In a 2008 newspaper article on LASIK-related suicides, Schallhorn was quoted as saying, "There's no cause and effect". Learn more about Schallhorn in this Lasik News Wire article.

Olympic Medalist, Steve Holcomb, Suicide Attempt - Video published 2/4/2014

Although LASIK is not mentioned in this video, Steve Holcomb suffered complications of LASIK surgery, which led to his 2007 suicide attempt according to Holcomb's book. LASIK surgeons routinely misdiagnose post-LASIK ectasia as "keratoconus" in an effort to keep a lid on this growing epidemic. (Note: The corrective procedures that Holcomb underwent are currently experimental and not FDA-approved for post-LASIK eyes). Excerpt from Holcomb's book: I had worn contacts and glasses for years and thought nothing of it. A lot of my friends and both my parents wore corrective lenses, so it wasn't a big deal, except when bobsledding... You can wear contacts, but it's not ideal given the amount of jostling you endure. But this was about to change during my first year in bobsledding. A local eye surgeon came to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid and offered free Lasik procedures... After a quick screening it was determined that I would be a great candidate, and so I took advantage of it... "When can I get back to work and see some results?" I asked... "You should see a real difference in about six weeks, no more than eight." That had been a year ago, and not only was I not seeing better, but my vision kept getting worse.

Steven Holcomb was found dead at the age of 37 in his room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Suicidal LASIK patient telephones FDA to report injury - 12/11/2013

Patient called to report adverse events after receiving Lasik eye surgery with an Allegro Wavelength laser on [redacted by FDA] 2013, in both eyes. Patient stated prior to the procedure, he had no issues with his eyes. He said around [redacted by FDA] 2013, after the procedure, he started to have extreme, severe dry eye issues that were extremely painful. He also explained that he can't keep his eyes open and that his eyes feel like they are being pulled forward. He is extremely upset with his current condition and said he hasn't been able to work since [redacted by FDA] 2013. Patient said he has seen 3 ophthalmologists and spent $[redacted by FDA] trying to correct the adverse reactions. He said it's difficult for him to function. Patient explained he was told that his condition is chronic and he is worried about his future, he feels disabled. He said he has contemplated suicide and is talking to a therapist. He said his pain is so bad that everyday he lives in torment, and that he may not be around very much longer to see if his condition ever improves. The patient was transferred to local [redacted by FDA] crisis prevention hotline. Link to report

Suicidal patient had Lasik in 2005, developed corneal ectasia in 2009. Report filed with FDA 11/18/2013

I have post lasik ectasia/blatantly misdiagnosed. In 2005 I had lasik eye surgery performed on both eyes. In 2009 my left eye rapidly deteriorated as I lost my vision and felt pain grow stronger by the day. I was diagnosed by a very experienced cornea specialist with post lasik ectasia in 2012. I was blatantly misdiagnosed on (b)(6) 2013 by the surgeon that performed my Lasik surgery, and his referral buddy that is a cornea surgeon working in harmony with the coverup. The cornea surgeon informed me that I have keratoconus and the only way to repair my sight is to have cornea transplant. I was scheduled for that surgery to be on (b)(6) 2013 and the Lasik surgeon that has left me with this pain, suffering, loss of income, depression, suicidal thoughts, severe anxiety, and a completely miserable life paid (or maybe he didn't as I didn't see the payment take place) for my cornea transplant surgery as to even try to deceive me that he was not looking out for my best interest or my health. Both of these prominent doctors looked me straight in the eyes and told me a blatant lie and a blatant misdiagnosis that I knew was only to cover their name and hope Ii was not aware of their doing so. I have all the evidence anybody would need to prove that these doctors are in this together to save their name and or any possibility of the filing a lawsuit. Well I am not a fool, so I did what a patient does and listened to their professional diagnosis of my blindness. I was treated like scum, and their greed is catching up with them. I am a victim of the Lasik procedure, but now I am a victim of two prominent surgeons misdiagnosing me on complete purpose. I will not let this go without justice being served in my favor. I have a case, and all the evidence is right in front of me. The expert witness is the doctor that did the right of his patient and diagnosed with a proper diagnosis, and he is more experienced than the two that are knowingly covering up truth selfishly. Link to report

Lasik in 2010, patient now suicidal. Reported to FDA 9/20/2013

I had lasik eye surgery at Lasik Plus and my life hasn't been the same since. Suicidal and etc. now.

Link to report

Suicidal LASIK patient files injury report with the FDA - 6/6/2012

I have chronic aqueous deficient dry eye aka neurotrophic keratopathy or refractory dry eye. My eyes do not tear when they are dry or come into contact with irritants and allergens. This is an extremely painful and degenerative condition though I don't think I will be around to see exactly how bad it gets because I intend to end my life soon. My doctor claims that it is not possible for this to be a result of LASIK. However, when pressed he said that up to 40% of LASIK patients have some degree of residual dry eye. He is full of contradictions. It depends what you're asking him and in what context. The answer changes regularly. It took me 6 years to find a doctor that finally told me that this condition is in fact due to LASIK surgery. This is due to a concerted effort by ophthalmologists to cover up for each other. Even though they knew better they sent me on a 6 year quest to find out what I should have been told before the surgery. LASIK causes extreme dry eyes in many people, especially people like me with high risk factors.

Link to report

Patient attempted suicide after Lasik. Filed report with FDA 5/12/12

Excerpt: My quality of life has been destroyed because of a useless, elective surgery. My professional career as a mechanical engineer will be in jeopardy. I can provide electronic scans of the majority of my medical records including wavefront measurements, multiple hospitalization records for attempted suicide and depression, informed consent forms from both lasik procedures, operative reports for both procedures, etc. Many items are shown on my personal website (b)(6). Prior to lasik, I did not have depression or any other mental health related issues. I also did not have any vision problems before having Lasik. I was healthy and actively participated in amateur boxing. My career was also going extremely well. Lasik has changed all of this and created a hardship for my wife and I. I have spent thousands of dollars as a direct result of Lasik related complications to my vision and overall health. I have had continuous issues with my vision and have not had a single day of clear, normal vision since the first lasik surgery on (b)(6) 2010. Read full report here

LASIK suicide reported on petition to stop LASIK - 5/4/2012

"My one and only child committed suicide after 1.5 years of struggle with bad Lasik job. He was only 22. His night vision became very poor. Please have FDA pull this off the market at all cost. How many people have to die?"

Link (read comment #629)

Lasik patient hospitalized for suicidal ideation. Report filed with FDA 4/7/2012

Excerpt: Lasik eye surgery has destroyed my quality of life, and has drastically and irrevocably slashed the time that I have to "live" life. My personal, professional, financial, recreational, social, parental, and every other aspect of life that has been decimated by Lasik. The motivation necessary to live this barren existence is that I do not destroy my children's lives by killing myself. I cannot tell my children from their friends in my own home from more than 4 feet away - last year it was 13 feet-; extremely limited driving only during daylight, and none during night; unable to walk alone at night various visual disturbances above and beyond extremely poor visual acuity that has regressed since Lasik, such as: starbursts; halos; ghosting, loss of contrast sensitivity resulting in poor depth perception - I trip on steps because I cannot tell whether they are steps or flat; unable to read newspapers, instructions, menus, ingredients, dosing instructions on medications, bed time stories, etc. - thank God for the (b)(4). -; PTSD post traumatic stress disorder- and resulting anxiety and depression; hospitalizations for suicidal ideation; financial loss and injustice of a medical malpractice lawsuit that deserves its own documentary detailing the inadequacy of the justice system... Read full report here

Attempted suicide reported on petition to stop LASIK - 3/19/2012

This procedure ruined my life. It left me with severe dry eyes. Corneal erosions. Starburst and halos at night. My night vision is ruined and I have vitreous detachment in both eyes. The non stop pain caused me to attempt suicide at age 32. I lost my job, house car and future. This could of easily been prevented if I was given proper VERBAL warning about 3 conditions that SHOULD of eliminated me from the procedure. I went to The Lasik Vision Institute. Warning to all.

Link (read comment #606)

LASIK patient reports depression and multiple suicide attempts to the FDA - 3/10/2011

I had lasik surgery on (b)(6) 2007. The surgery was performed within 4 hrs. of my initial visit. I have not had clear vision since the day of surgery. My problems include dry eyes, halos, starbursts, no contrast ability, lack of peripheal vision, extreme sensitivity to light, and now bilateral cataracts. I was told at every visit that these complications would resolve over time. Of anything, my symptoms have become worse. I faced an unknown amount of surgeries to remove the cataracts and I am concerned about the instability of my corneas, which have been damaged and will at some point require corneal transplantation. At the time of my surgery, I was earning in excess of (b)(6) per year. Due to my declining visual ability and debilitating depression, I am on (b)(6), wherein I receive a monthly stipend of (b)(6). I have attempted suicide more than 5 times since my lasik.

Link to report

Michigan doctor commits suicide after LASIK

"Ashu", a 31-year-old doctor of psychiatry from Michigan, had LASIK in the summer of 2003 and committed suicide on September 15, 2004.

Ashu was a graduate of the University of Michigan medical school with a bright, promising future. He had searched extensively for a surgical fix for his LASIK complications, and he had traveled to see an optometrist who specializes in fitting therapeutic contact lenses.

Young man from Nevada commits suicide after suffering a bad outcome from LASIK

On January 16, 2012, Morris Waxler, former FDA chief of ophthalmic devices, reported the suicide of 28 year-old Vincent Wat of Las Vegas to the FDA commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, M.D., and the director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D.

Several LASIK patients had communicated with Wat under his Internet pseudonym "notsubby" on a LASIK patient online forum where he had expressed thoughts of suicide. Although Wat died on September 2, 2008, the LASIK patient advocacy community was not aware of his death until late 2011. LASIK patients who had communicated with Wat located his friends and a family member, who confirmed the information surrounding his LASIK-related suicide.

Read letter

Suicide of police officer Larry Campbell reported at FDA hearing by attorney Todd Krouner

Todd Krouner, attorney for the widow of a police officer who committed suicide in March 2008, gave this presentation to the FDA advisory panel, including 3 pages of the suicide note which states:

"DO NOT HAVE LASIK SURGERY! Tell the media!!!"

Read Todd Krouner's slides (see slides 6 through 8).

May 28, 2011: 20/20 Hindsight on Canada's GlobalTV program 16:9 The Bigger Picture features Larry Campbell's story as told by his son.

LASIK suicide connected to Robert Selkin, MD

Patient with burning dry eyes after LASIK commits suicide

From the article: "'He went for a walk and my brother though it was strange because he usually always took his dog with him but he didn't take his dog with him on this walk. He didn't come back, and my brother, obviously feared the worst,' says Roger Pedretti, Robert’s older brother. On that February day four years ago Robert Pedretti ended his life with a blast from his shotgun... 'I was around him all the time and despite reading afterwards the degree to which he was suffering he, I think tried as much as he possibly could to look like his normal self.' But inside, Robert was dealing with a job change, depression, and health problems. 'I didn't know his eyes were burning to the extent because of Lasik eye surgery or his ears were ringing.' Therapist, Dr. Joel Rooney says that combination, for a man, at that age can be lethal... Now his family has his memories, and his writings, which have given them insight into his suffering. 'He said it was like a cancer, like a terminal illness that you just couldn't get through and the pain was too much to overcome it he couldn't live that way anymore,' says his brother."

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Pennsylvania man found dead at old hospital site

From the article: "While many patients achieve satisfactory outcomes, Dorrian began experiencing debilitating visual aberrations following surgery, such as glare, double-vision or ghosting, blurred vision, halos, and impaired night and low-light vision."

"Gerry Dorian said his son consulted many specialists and closely followed developments in the technology, hoping for a breakthrough that could reverse the damage. Colin took his own life after concluding “that wasn’t going to happen,” Gerry Dorrian said."

"Colin left a message on his computer indicating he would kill himself if he couldn’t get his vision corrected, Gerry Dorrian said."

“There wasn’t anything else going on in Colin’s life that would have driven him to this,” Gerry Dorrian said. “For some people, the outcome of LASIK can be impossible to deal with.”

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Video warning of the devastating emotional impact on LASIK disaster victims

Faith A. Hayden. Treating unexplainable pain. EyeWorld, March 2012

From the article: "[LASIK] Patients go to their ophthalmologists, some of them suicidal because of the pain, and their eyes on the slit lamp look perfectly normal," said Perry Rosenthal, M.D., founder, Boston Foundation for Sight. "Doctors send them to a psychiatrist because they think the [patients are] exaggerating. It just adds to the patients' burden." Before you dismiss this patient as a crazy hypochondriac and send her on her way, consider corneal neuropathic disease, an extremely rare condition that causes intense pain along corneal nerves.

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EyeWorld, February 2012. Ectasia, topography readings hot topics among military refractive surgeons

From the article: Corneal neuralgia is a newly described disease process refractive surgeons wish was mythological. Lt. Cmdr. John B. Cason, M.D., cornea, external disease, and refractive surgery, Naval Medical Center, San Diego, gave an overview of the symptoms, which many patients find excruciating. "The hallmark of this is how uncomfortable these patients are," he said. "But when you examine them, you don't see anything causing it. These patients are extremely difficult to treat; they keep coming back to your clinic. All the therapies you give them fail, and because of this, many of us think they're making it up." The pain these patients are feeling, however, is very real. Some patients are so uncomfortable and so despondent over failed treatments that they become suicidal. As one patient Dr. Cason had in fellowship said, "I want my eyes taken out or I want to die."

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Dr. Edward Boshnick testifies at FDA hearing regarding LASIK complications, depression and suicidality

Beth Kotsovolos speaks on behalf of families affected by post-LASIK depression and suicide

4/25/2008 Diana Zuckerman, PhD, President, National Research Center for Women & Families wants more information about the Emory study of suicide rate among cornea donors (Go to 4:44).

Dr. Zuckerman: "The possibility of a higher suicide rate among [LASIK] patients has been raised and will be raised. More research and really good quality objective scientific research is needed. I tried to get that information. I contacted Emory University but was not able to get better information about that research which, it has not been published."

Patient with post-LASIK ectasia suffers depression and thoughts of suicide, now wearing speciality contact lenses

Patient considers suicide after disastrous monovision LASIK

Excerpt: "My life as a respected Police officer and my hobbies of fishing, scuba diving, surfing, working out at the gym, bicycling and living my life happily are now over and its been all Doom and Gloom for me and I have even considered suicide but a very close and loving friend has kept me from doing this. I would rather go blind and live in pain and anguish than to not see her again. At least that's what I feel today but I came very close a few different nights."

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Perils of Lasik: Double Vision, Eye Pain and even a Suicide - Lawyers and Settlements 4/28/2008

From the article: Colin Dorrian was a promising law school student when he sought relief from a chronic dry eye condition by undergoing Lasik laser eye surgery. However, rather than improving his vision and freeing him from his contacts, the procedure left him with so much eye pain and fuzzy vision that after six years, he took his own life... Dorrian, who ended his own life six years after having Lasik surgery, should have been disqualified from having the surgery. His pupils were overly large, and he suffered from extreme dryness of the eyes—two conditions that should have disqualified him from having the procedure. And yet he was cleared for it.

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Some link depression, failed lasik. Patients with impaired sight turn suicidal; surgeons reject any connection

The News & Observer 2/3/2008
Sabine Vollmer, Staff Writer

From the article: "Frustration and even sorrow can follow any unsuccessful surgery, but when the procedure leaves a patient with unremitting eye pain or permanently impaired vision, the emotional toll can be particularly severe... Scientists at the Emory Eye Center in Atlanta reviewed suicides among organ donors who had had laser eye surgery. Preliminary results suggested the suicide rate might be four times as high among cornea donors who had had lasik as among cornea donors who had not... Christine Sindt, an optometrist and associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, has encountered the psychological effects that patients experience when they have trouble seeing. "Depression is a problem for any patient with a chronic vision problem," she said. But in the case of post-lasik patients, she said, the depression is compounded by remorse. "It's not just that they lose vision," she said. "They paid somebody [who] took their vision away." Sindt specializes in treating ectasia, a bulging of the eye that is considered the most severe and rarest LASIK complication. She sees a few dozen patients with ectasia; all of them show signs of depression, she said."

Link to article

Severe Eye Pain After LASIK May Lead To Thoughts Of Suicide

From the article: "The cornea is the most powerful pain generator in the human body, said Dr. Rosenthal. The density of corneal pain receptors has been estimated to be 40 times that of dental pulp. He explained that the damaged nerve fibers in the cornea, the sensory fibers, cause all the symptoms, whether or not the initial disease is severe dry eye or corneal neuropathy.

The intensity and constancy of corneal neuralgia can be incapacitating and even induce thoughts of suicide, said Stephen C. Pflugfelder, MD. Dr. Pflugfelder, who is professor of ophthalmology and director of the Ocular Surface Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, had a patient with so much corneal neuropathy following LASIK that he begged to have his eyes enucleated."...

"Jayne S. Weiss, MD, professor of ophthalmology and pathology at Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit, recalls such a case. A young man presented to her with excruciating corneal pain and evidence of a healed lamellar keratotomy. “Confocal microscopy revealed abnormal collections of unusually tortuous corneal nerves consistent with corneal neuropathy. Although vision eventually recovered to 20/20, the patient had asked at one point if he could have retrobulbar alcohol injected to dull the pain,” she said."

Source: Miriam Karmel. Addressing the Pain of Corneal Neuropathy. EyeNet, Jul/Aug 2010.

The CORS Survey

From the abstract: A total of 517 responses were submitted. After exclusion criteria, 392 responses were coded resulting in 36 separate subjective complaint categories. 195/392 (50%) responded to the three follow-up questions. 58 subjects reported suicidal ideation as a result of the surgical procedure, and 83% (48/58) of this group were referred to as successes by their surgeon. 115 subjects reported severe depression as a result of the surgical procedure, and 76% (87/115) of this group were referred to as successes by their surgeon.


Effect of LASIK complications on quality of life reported to the FDA through the MedWatch program

"There seems to be no solution. No one seems to understand the impact that this loss of vision has had on my life. My eye doctor talks as if i should be grateful because using the eye chart i can see around -. 05 in both eyes with a slight astigmatism. However, the crazy images i see have led me to be depressed to the point of considering suicide at times. I have not received a good explanation for why my vision is deteriorating." Read report

"Due to my declining visual ability and debilitating depression, I am on [redacted by FDA], wherein I receive a monthly stipend of [redacted by FDA]. I have attempted suicide more than 5 times since my LASIK." Read report

"Had LASIK eye surgery on [redacted], 2010. Now cannot see to do any of my daily tasks. Near and mid-vision are gone. I only see far away. Was only told I would need readers for the computer. Local doctor can't believe how farsighted they made me. I am preparing to commit suicide after I get me affairs in order for my children. Only those who have gone through this nightmare understand the guilt and shame. You spend thousands of dollars and have no recourse whatsoever when the outcome is bad. It is a great scam for the LASIK centers. Where on earth could you buy a product and then not have any recourse if it does not work??? Please put a stop to this before others die or ruin their lives!!! Please listen to us!!!" Read report

"Bilateral Intralase LASIK performed in [redacted] 2010, using the VISX CustomVue system... Three months post surgery complications - pain in the right eye accompanied by headaches, dry eyes, appearance of many dark floaters, starbursts and halos around bright light sources -in both low and moderate lighting conditions-, reduced contrast sensitivity - reduced ability to see well in low lighting-, induced astigmatism. These conditions result in reduced ability to drive at night, reduced ability to concentrate while on the job, reduced ability to participate in activities and everyday tasks in low light settings; increased sensitivity to bright light, increased depression, increased anxiety." Read report

"My quality of life has been ruined. I no longer can drive, work, and enjoy the things I loved so much, like reading, photography, cooking and so many other things. I am a prisoner in my home and have a hard time doing simple tasks... Therefore, this has not only cause a great hardship for myself, but my family as well... I am hoping you can prevent him from doing this to another patient and ruining another life." Read report

"It has been 21 months since the surgery and my vision is still poor in the both eyes... I tried to get help from lasik plus, but all they could say to me was , we are sorry... If it were not for my strong relationship with Jesus Christ and many Christian brothers and sisters praying for me daily, would have most likely taken my life." Read report

"I feel like my life has been ruined. And the thought of living the rest of my life with this pain is horrible." Read report

"I have not had one happy moment since I started having complications. I am in a severe depression."  Read report

"It ruined my vision, and gave me permanent eye pain and dryness... It affects my work, my hobbies, every aspect of my life is pain and difficulty... I never knew depression until lasik." Read report

"My vision has progressed to the point where my left eye is legally blind... This surgery has destroyed my life." Read report

"The immediate effect of my lasik and dry eye was severe depression that endured for three years post-surgery... My mental state required me to make several treatment attempts including medication and therapy. I had no prior history of depression." Read report

"Can you please finally do something about this before more people end up like me, hurt, injured, etc. Some people end up committing suicide... AMA and FDA: are you listening? What happened to ethics and the standard of care? The bar must be raised so that others don't have to experience this hell." Read report

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How does the LASIK industry respond to reports of LASIK-related depression and suicide?

In response to reports of LASIK-related suicides, LASIK industry representatives made statements in the media and at an FDA hearing denying any connection between a bad outcome from LASIK and risk of depression or suicide...

“There is simply no scientific basis to support a direct connection between a sub-optimal outcome from eye surgery and suicide.”
Lindstrom, Richard. (2008, March 12) Letter to the News & Observer

“There is no scientific evidence of any direct link between LASIK and the development of depression or suicide.” 
Morse M.D., Jennifer (2008, April 25) FDA Special Hearing on Post-LASIK Quality of Life

“There's no cause and effect.” Schallhorn, Steven C.
As quoted by Vollmer, S. "Some link depression, failed LASIK." News & Observer [Charlotte, NC] 3 February, 2008.

"It would be an error to conclude that poor results of LASIK are the cause of suicide."
R. Doyle Stulting, MD. (2008, March 5) Letter to the Chicago Tribune from Richard Lindstrom.

Shocking videos of prominent LASIK surgeons
performing comedy skits mocking damaged patients who are depressed or suicidal

Watch Parag Majmudar, M.D.'s performance as "Dr. I. M. Suicial" at a convention of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), singing of "pushing the boundaries of ethics".

Below, skip to 42 seconds to watch comedy skit starring Dr. I. M. Suicial (Parag Majmudar, M.D.), William Trattler, M.D. and Jodi Luchs, M.D.

Study finds link between visual impairment and risk of suicide

Lam BL, Christ SL, Lee DJ, Zheng DD, Arheart KL. Reported visual impairment and risk of suicide: the 1986-1996 national health interview surveys. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008 Jul;126(7):975-80.


Increased mortality risks also have been noted in adults with visual impairment and disabling eye disease... However, reported visual impairment indirectly increased suicide risk significantly by 5% through poor self-rated health and by 12% through the number of nonocular conditions. The combined indirect effects of reported visual impairment operating jointly through poorer self-rated health and a higher number of reported nonocular conditions increased the risk of suicide significantly by 18%. When we examined the combined indirect effects of the other covariates in the model, only older age produced stronger associations, providing further support for the importance of the indirect effects of visual impairment as a contributor to increased risk of suicide... Up to two-thirds of people who commit suicide have some type of physician contact in their last month, and physician education is effective in reducing suicide rates... In summary, we observed that reported visual impairment increased suicide risk, particularly indirectly via reported health status and health conditions.

Link to abstract

Reported cases of post-LASIK depression in the medical literature

Disappointment of patients on antidepressant therapy after excimer laser treatment.
Cataract Refract Surg. 2006 Oct;32(10):1775-6.
Celik L, Kaynak T, Ozerdem A, Kocak N, Kaynak S.


Case 1
A 46-year-old woman was admitted with complaints of severe dry-eye symptoms, blurred and double vision, halos around objects, and inability to look at oncoming car lights. She had had excimer laser surgery 2 years earlier for myopia, which she said was around −10.00 diopters (D) and −11.50 D in the right and left eyes, respectively...
Severe dry eye and visual disturbances due to a mid-dilated pupil were diagnosed. The prescription included frequent instillation of artificial tears and pilocarpine drops 4 times daily. Punctum plugs were also advised, but the patient did not want another ocular procedure. She called the office 4 days later from a psychiatry clinic where she was hospitalized because of intolerable visual disturbances resulting from longstanding pupil dilation. The patient did not return for a follow-up visit.

Case 2
A 34-year-old woman reported dryness of the eyes and visual disturbances after LASIK 11 months earlier. According to her statements, the refraction in her spectacles was approximately −8.00 D and −7.00 D. She was receiving antidepressant therapy with seroxate; one reason she had LASIK was to improve her mood and increase her self-confidence. She reported that the result of the surgery was a “catastrophe,” “worse than anything I could imagine,” and that “life became a burden” for her.

I've reached the end

Originally posted on Dr. Gerald Horn's board at
Posted on Wednesday, 23 May 2001, at 8:13 p.m.

Excerpt: I cannot battle this anymore, there is no current and there will be no future hope for me. I am so sad that my life has been stolen from me this way. How did this nightmare happen? Is this real? Did I really do this to myself? How did my eyes end up so screwed?...My pain now is not from my eyes, but from the thoughts of how devasted my family will be from this. I made the biggest mistake of my life, the biggest mistake ANYONE COULD POSSIBLY make. In one instant my life was destroyed and now my family and friends will suffer to. I only hope that they know this is to end my suffering.

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LASIK and Quality of Life

"When compared with a hearing-impaired control group, impaired sight alone can acutely affect otherwise psychologically healthy individuals." Source: Psychosomatics, Jul-Aug 1999 Read article

Functional vision for the normally sighted person is so basic to everyday living that sudden, or even gradual, vision loss can have a devastating impact on quality of life.” Source: Cleveland Clinic website [2009, February 24] Link

Robert Latkany, M.D.: "I have patients from around the world. They’re desperate and crying out for help,” he said. “It’s borderline scary. Numerous times I’ve heard people say they want to commit suicide. To the eye doctor, [dry eye] is just a nuisance [when], in fact, these patients are really suffering.” Source

Tuisku I, Tervo T, Belmonte C.: "It is important to comprehend that these individuals may be suffering from “phantom eye pain,” which does not have a psychiatric or “central pain” etiology. The recent discussion of mental depression up to suicide after LASIK suggests that we need to pay more attention to the pain issue after this therapy and analyze whether this problem is associated with unrealistic expectations, poor results, or development of peripheral neuropathic pain." Source: Letters to the Editor. J Refract Surg. Oct 2008, pg 772.

College baseball player, Trevor Tyre, finds healing after LASIK "depressing" - Dothan Eagle 5/19/2009

From the article: He had the eye surgery in December and had to put in eye drops every day for three months to regain the strength in his eyes. He could see, but not well enough... He saw an eye doctor who recommended the LASIK surgery, but Tyre still wasn’t sure. “I had my disbeliefs,” Tyre said. “Some people say you see halos around car lights and there’s only a 50 percent chance it works. But my doctor assured me that with my young age, it wasn’t as bad as it could be.” “I couldn’t pick up the rotation or spin on the ball,” Tyre said. “It was real depressing."


Atlanta Braves catcher, Brian McCann, vision problems after LASIK - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 5/16/2009

From the article: Dealing with a sense so delicate and wondrous as sight was a little different than trying to shake off a sprain... Since his 2007 Lasik surgery, McCann’s eyes had changed. He didn’t really begin to notice, he said, until the start of this season. But the change was drastic... “Until we got the two eyes equalized, it was not going to be better,” said Alan Kozarsky, the Atlanta ophthalmologist who did the Lasik, and one of several doctors on the case this month... The McCann boys had been taught early by their father to play through most any injury. But this was something else. There was no gutting out this type of problem... “I was more concerned with him mentally,” McCann’s father said. “He was miserable."

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