Outline side effects before conducting laser eye surgery: DOH

By Grace Soong, The China Post

In the wake of the buzz regarding laser eye surgeries, the Department of Health (DOH) recently issued an official document to the Ophthalmological Society of Taiwan (眼科醫學會), requesting physicians to properly convey the potential side effects to potential patients prior to conducting surgeries.

Shih Chung-Liang (石崇良), director of the DOH’s Bureau of Medical Affairs (醫事處), validated the request and said that the ophthalmological society would soon convene experts to discussion the topic. “It is not that serious,” Shih said, pointing out that not one country around the globe had banned the conduction of laser eye surgeries; the surgery is really not as risky as people presume. It is necessary, however, that ophthalmologists evaluate patients’ conditions and fully inform them of the pros and cons, as well as potential side effects, of the surgical procedure, and leave the decision of whether to undergo surgery up to the patients, he said. Although the DOH had not set a specific deadline, the Ophthalmological Society said it would soon gather experts to sort out the controversial topics of surgical side effects and ineffective communication with patients, etc. According to Shih, stringent pre-operative examination and regular follow-ups are crucial for those who undergo laser eye surgeries. There exist countless other surgical procedures that pose higher risks than the laser eye surgery, so those considering undergoing the operation need not panic, he said. If any scientific literature or clinical reports indicate that the surgical procedure could leave patients with serous side effects, however, the society would again convene to further regulate the procedure, Shih promised. Case Study: Dry Eyes

It could be that only few patients who had undergone laser eye surgeries need to deal with serious side effects, but those few dearly dread having done it. A 39-year-old man surnamed Chen said he reported to the ophthalmologist’s one month after the surgery, eyes dry and concerned-he never used to have dry eyes. The doctor waved his apprehension away, telling him that it would return to normal in a few months’ time. The surgery was conducted five years ago, but Chen had never gotten used to the dryness in his eyes. When he returned for further checkups one year after the surgery, the ophthalmologist handed him a thing of eye-drop and said his dry eyes were incurable. His glasses were the first thing he looked for in the morning prior to undergoing the surgery; now he looks for eye drops instead.