TAMPA - Lasik surgery is one of
the most popular surgical procedures in the country. But every year,
tens of thousands of people suffer serious complications.
After a group of Bay area Lasik patients of the same surgery
center experienced the same apparent complications, ABC Action News
investigator Mike Mason found out the center behind the surgeries
has a history of problems.
"It's incredible amounts of pain, it still is hurting," lamented
patient Kathy Jasmin.
"Very, very burning as if I'd stuck my face in a bottle of
chlorine," added Peter Milovic.
Before May, Peter and Kathy had never met. They were brought
together by a similar tale of pain and suffering: both had their
Lasik surgeries done on the same day at LVI, the Lasik Vision
Institute on Fowler Avenue in Tampa, and they both had major
"I was in a hotel room, my eyes were swollen shut. I could only
see shadows, and my fear was that it was permanent," Kathy recalled.
Kathy and Peter both had eye infections. Two days after their
initial procedure, they both went back to LVI for yet another
surgery. This time their corneas had to be cut open again and the
doctor had to scrape away the infection.
did it feel when they scraped your eyes?" Mike Mason asked Peter.
"Probably 10 times worse than when they did the original
surgery," he replied. "It burned, it hurt, it seemed like they were
in a hurry."
Officials at LVI admit they knew several patients were infected
that day and they believe the infections were caused by an airborne
virus. The company said the surgery room was immediately disinfected
and there has not been a problem since.
However, Peter and Kathy are not the only ones complaining. At
least four others who had Lasik surgery that day told ABC Action
News they also got terrible eye infections.
Each of the patients also has problems with night vision, which
makes it nearly impossible to drive at night. When they see a car's
headlights, it looks like a blinding supernova; even traffic lights
have a halo effect. It makes most of them not even want to got out
LVI discloses, in its patient consent form, that problems with
night vision are possible. Each of the six patients interviewed by
Action News signed that form, but none of them ever thought they
would end up with eye infections.
asked who the president of the company was and I was told, 'We
cannot give out that information,'" Kathy complained.
Marco Musa's responses were canned advertising slogans.
LVI's corporate president, it turns out, is Marco Musa. Action
News found him at the company's corporate headquarters in Palm Beach
County, and asked him about the half dozen patients infected at the
"All I can tell you is I know that Lasik Vision Institute
provides the best service, the most qualified surgeons," he said,
denying any knowledge of the patients' complaints. "I am glad I was
able to answer all of your questions, and again, all I can say is
what's important to the public out there is the fact that the Lasik
Vision Institute offers the very best service, the most qualified
surgeons, and the overall very lowest price in the entire nation as
an overall price."
However, Mike Mason found a history of problems when he
investigated LVI and Marco Musa.
In March, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against
LVI for making false and unsubstantiated claims about Lasik surgery.
LVI's ads claimed Lasik could eliminate the need for reading glasses
and bifocals, but the FTC said the company had no reasonable basis
to substantiate those claims.
The FTC also said LVI broke the law by requiring patients to pay
a $300 deposit before the company even disclosed the risks of
Mike discovered Musa also owns a company called Eyeglass World, a
chain of stores that sell glasses and contact lenses. In 2000,
Florida's attorney general accused Eyeglass World of selling
outdated, used, and non-sterile contact lenses to customers, and
intentionally misquoting prices over the telephone. The company
agreed to pay the state $500,000 to settle the allegations.
World settled a case involving reselling used contact lenses
and other misdeeds. |
"As innocent as we feel that we were in that case, we decided to
settle because our attorney advised us that the cost of fighting
something like that would be more," Musa said.
Musa maintains his company has done nothing wrong, but patients
who were harmed by LVI wonder if Musa could look them in their eyes
and still say that.
"If you had it to do over again, would you?" Mike asked Kathy.
"No, absolutely not," she replied.
If you would like to file a complaint against a Lasik surgeon
you may call the Department of Health in Tallahassee at
1-850-414-1976, or download a complaint form from the DOH's Web site.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Lasik Vision Institute in
part two of Mike's report on ABC Action News Monday night at 11.
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