Meanwhile, in my boredom and obsession, I’ve stumbled back (I found them when researching LASIK years ago) upon some of the LASIK horror story sites and community boards. It is frustrating all around. There is no question that many people have suffered poor outcomes from LASIK. Many of these problems are because they were not good candidates in the first place, and were told that everything would be fine. Other adverse outcomes were simply bad luck.
I am not sure that many of these communities are very helpful.Â I fear that the emphasis on how bad it is has a negative effect on the perception of pain and discomfort, on the perception of their vision, and on the patient’s ability to cope with the poor outcome. Those communities that encourage a culture of victimization and suffering do no service to those who come to them for help and support.
In a lot of ways, this kind of behavior resembles that of alternative medicine practitioners.Â The difference is that rather than promoting an intangible â€œwellness of beingâ€, those websites and communities devoted to poor LASIK outcomes promote unwellness of being, often using the same tactics: anecdotal evidence having more power than studies or statistical evidence, the demonizing of medical and scientific authority, out of context quoting, partial truths, and appeals to emotion. Some of the more outlandish claims from this group are that 100% of LASIK patients have poor outcomes and that the corneal flap never heals, and that refractive surgeons do this surgery to become rich despite knowing how it ruins lives.
For the most part, participants are simply sufferers looking for community support. They might gain this, but too often it is at the cost of losing rational grounding in what has happened to them and how they can best deal with it. Rather than it being the refractive surgeons who have taken advantage of them, as they are told over and over, it is the ringleaders of the â€œLASIK horror storyâ€ community who take advantage, either emotionally or financially.
I noted one site that did not allow even viewing their discussion boards without a paid subscription, except for the original post op experiences that patients wrote. These serve as teasers, enticing not only patients but the curious to pay the fee in order to find out what happened next. Many of them were posted before the bulletin board became subscription only by patients seeking support and advice.
It is possible that we might find a handful of lawyers involved in this community as well. Litigation and public accusation without telling the whole story is a common theme.
What is there to find in this mess? Same old story: when using the internet to find out something, take what you find with a grain of salt and apply common sense liberally. This particular pseudoscience episode convinces me even more that we need a formal course on logical and critical thinking in our public schools with lots of supplementary support within other courses.