Public Release: 

Filatov Eye Institute contests validity of recent study

Mason & Madison

Top LASIK surgeon alerts consumers: past research irrelevant in today's LASIK world

GREENWICH, Conn. (February 11, 2002) - Contesting the interpretation of a recent study by Ohio University suggesting that a large percentage of people having LASIK procedures develop night vision problems and other side effects, the Filatov Eye Institute says that retrospective surveys do not adequately reflect current LASIK results. Alerting consumers not to make decisions based on outdated data, the Filatov Eye Institute instead stresses the importance of seeking qualified surgeons who use the latest eye-tracking laser technology to perform LASIK surgery.

"With the constant evolution that is occurring in the LASIK world today, studies that rely on the experiences of patients who underwent surgery two years ago, or even six months ago, with outdated equipment, are only interesting from the historical perspective," says Vadim Filatov, M.D., founder of Filatov Eye Institute. "From the time retrospective research is conducted to the time it is released to the general public, it is irrelevant, and not predictive of the results patients can expect today with newer technology."

Last month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology issued its own assessment based on peer-reviewed scientific literature for the years 1968 through June of 2001. Findings suggest that while serious, adverse complications resulting in permanent visual loss occurred rarely, side effects such as dry eyes, nighttime starbursts, and reduced contrast sensitivity occurred more frequently. The Academy was quick to point out, however, that "it is difficult to compare results from the reviewed studies with current practices using the most recent generation of lasers because of the rapid evolution of LASIK technology and techniques."

Dr. Filatov, trained at Yale, Harvard and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and with more than 5,000 LASIK procedures performed, offers a different analysis of a recently released Ohio University study of 605 patients who had LASIK surgery in late 1999 and early 2000. He questions several interpretations of the retrospective data collected.

1. The Ohio University study suggests that nearly a quarter to a third of patients who underwent LASIK reported problems seeing at night, however, this study fails to show that these night vision problems were an actual result of LASIK surgery.

Having conducted a similar retrospective study at Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, six years ago, Dr. Filatov found that a majority of patients who had PRK (a precursor of LASIK) also experienced night vision problems. However, when he repeated the study prospectively, Dr. Filatov found that most of the patients who had night vision problems after surgery also had these problems prior to surgery.

Not surprisingly, over 97 percent of the patients questioned in the Ohio University study would have LASIK again. It is a known fact that some patients report more nighttime difficulties with both LASIK and contact lenses than with glasses. This is because correcting vision with LASIK or contacts takes place much closer to the cornea compared with glasses, contributing to more glare and halo, especially in some individuals who may not be good candidates to have this surgery.

Notably, Dr. Filatov cites a patient with large pupils of 8mm, who he recommended not have LASIK with the older technology. (Night glare or halo problems after LASIK can correlate with an individual's pupil size under dim conditions and the level of correction.) Instead, this same patient had LASIK just 2 weeks ago with the new technology, and reports an improvement in nighttime vision compared to the difficulties he had seeing at night with his contacts.

2. Secondly, the Ohio University study suggests that patients over the age of 40 were less satisfied with LASIK results. Dr. Filatov does not dispute this finding in the subset of patients questioned, however, he strongly argues against projecting this finding to other patients since the Ohio University study does not comment on whether or not these older, less satisfied patients had monovision treatment.

According to Dr. Filatov, older, nearsighted patients who could read without glasses before surgery, but could not see far, will be able to see far, but lose their ability to read without glasses after LASIK. This could lead to less satisfaction than younger patients, who while gaining distance vision, would not compromise their ability to read without glasses. That is, if both eyes are treated similarly. To increase patient satisfaction after LASIK in the older group, Dr. Filatov uses monovision, the purposeful adjustment of one eye for near vision and the other eye for distance vision, which allows older patients to retain their reading vision while gaining better distance vision.

3. And, finally, only 48 percent of questionnaires were returned, which may represent a bias in that patients who were less satisfied with LASIK were more likely to fill out and return the questionnaire than more satisfied patients.

"LASIK is a safe procedure," says Dr. Filatov. "However, consumers need to be aware of the importance of selecting qualified, Board-certified LASIK surgeons who properly screen their patients to determine good candidacy prior to surgery. The rates of complications increase significantly when a patient is in less experienced hands. Today's technological advances, which compensate for eye movements during surgery, not only bring an even greater safety, effectiveness and predictability, but also reduce side effects such as halo and glare."

Active eye-tracking systems incorporated into current laser systems are designed to compensate for the effects of patient eye and head movements. Until now, surgeons kept the eye steady by asking patients to stare at a blinking red dot. The surgeon could also control these movements manually by holding the eye in place with a fixation ring, but even then, there was a small risk of decentration of the laser treatment. Surgeons today have greater flexibility and control with constantly evolving technology and techniques that allow for faster, smoother treatment with precise corneal shaping.


Industry Data
According to Market Scope, a St. Louis-based newsletter that specializes in the refractive eye surgery market, LASIK is now the most common elective surgery in the United States, and generates $2.4 billion in revenue a year. More than 4.5 million Americans have had their vision corrected with the excimer laser since 1996.

About Dr. Filatov
Dr. Vadim Filatov, director of the Filatov Eye Institute, is a Board-certified cornea and LASIK specialist with a distinguished record of publications in the field of laser vision correction. His research allowed him to pioneer the Filatov Preventive System to guard against LASIK complications. Dr. Filatov was one of the first physicians in the United States in 1989 to evaluate the excimer laser, now widely used in LASIK and other procedures. He has won national recognition as one of the most experienced refractive surgeons in the country.

In addition to providing LASIK surgery, Dr. Filatov treats patients who experience complications from procedures performed by other physicians. He also offers customized, wavefront-guided LASIK treatment for patients with uncommon prescriptions or corneal shape, while providing one-on-one personalized, premium care.

About Filatov Eye Institute
The Filatov Eye Institute is an independent, ophthalmology and LASIK practice setting standards in high-quality, customized patient care. It is dedicated to advancing the field of laser vision correction and serving the community with the latest in technology. Also a center for research and education, the Filatov Eye Institute sponsors educational seminars and provides a full-time LASIK fellowship program to improve the standardization of training across the country. Headquartered in Greenwich, CT, with offices in Manhattan, Northern New Jersey, Westport and Glastonbury, CT, the Filatov Eye Institute treats patients from all over the country and the world, including respected leaders, professional athletes and celebrities.

Note: Please contact Jennifer Milliken or Lynn Luczkowski at Mason & Madison Public Relations if you'd like to set up an interview with Dr. Filatov. PH: (203) 393-1101

Jennifer Milliken
Mason & Madison Public Relations
(203) 393-1101 ext. 131
or Lynn Luczkowski
(203) 393-1101 ext. 138

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.