LASIK Surgery: Do the Advertising and Risk Disclosures Reflect the True Risk of Complication?

Yu, Megan

LASIK surgery, one of the most common elective procedures worldwide, aims to decrease or eliminate the need to wear glasses or contact lenses by reshaping the cornea’s curvature to restore the eye’s refractive power.[1] There is a popular belief among the public that the procedure is “virtually foolproof”,[2] which is largely shaped by LASIK advertising and marketing techniques.[3] However, recent studies and news reports suggest that complications after LASIK surgery are not uncommon and that many eye centers and LASIK advertisements continue to promise “20/20 vision or your money back” or fail to disclose possible LASIK complications.[4] In fact, a recent study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that 1 to 4 percent of participants were dissatisfied with the visual complications after LASIK surgery.[5] Misleading information provided to the public about the procedure contributes to the popularity of LASIK. This paper discusses the ethical issues currently associated with both advertising and physicians’ disclosures of risks surrounding the procedure and provides recommendations to address these LASIK complications.

LASIK is the most popular procedure used to correct the refractive error, which includes myopia and hyperopia.[6] Using this procedure, the ophthalmologist reshapes the cornea by removing eye tissue in different areas depending on the patient’s condition.[7] A flap approximately the size of a contact lens is formed using a femtosecond laser. This flap folds back in place and adheres to the corneal surface.[8]


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January 28, 2021