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A lighter, defter touch: Laser eye surgery is better than ever

Rating

4 Star

A lighter, defter touch: Laser eye surgery is better than ever

Our Review Summary

The story provides an excellent overview of some of the newer procedures and techniques for laser eye surgeries used to correct vision problems related to the size and shape of the cornea;  however, it may have been improved with quantification of benefit and discussion of available evidence on Lasik and PRK.  

 

The story mentions that photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), a procedure where a laser is used to reshape the cornea after the top layer of cells are removed, is now more being performed more than laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery. PRK may have fewer long-term side effects and may provide greater improvement in vision than LASIK surgery; however data on the side effects is inconclusive. 

 

The story notes that more surgeons are tailoring techniques and procedures as laser eye surgery grows in popularity, and corrective eye surgery is not a "one size fits all".  The story lists some of the potential pros and cons of LASIK and PRK surgery, and how a surgeon and a patient might decide which procedure is right, if appropriate at all. The story provides an excellent service by encouraging people to be educated consumers when making a decision about this heavily promoted eye surgery.   The story also mentions that the surgery may not be covered by health insurance and does a good job noting the variation in cost for different laser eye surgeries. The story provides multiple balanced perspectives on current trends in laser eye surgery.  

 

The story provides incomplete evidence about the success rates (i.e. how many people report 20/40 or 20/20 vision following either LASIK or PRK), or the incidence of lasting negative outcomes from the surgery.  The story mentions that "90% of patients who have laser eye surgery achieve 20/40 vision, and 10% of patients need corrective enhancement surgery". Is this 90% of the 1.14 million laser surgeries performed this year? We are not given context for these statistics, which is important if patients are to make an informed choice about this surgical procedure

 

 We are also not told how many procedures go wrong or result in permanent benign or more serious side effects.  The story does note the potential harms of treatment, such as dry and irritated eyes and blurry vision, but we are not told how often these happen. The story provides only one patient's anecdote that the surgery did not work well for him due to lasting uncomfortable side effects. 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story provides the variation in cost for different laser eye surgeries. The story also mentions that the surgery may not be covered by insurance.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story mentions that "90% of patients who have laser eye surgery achieve 20/40 vision, and 10% of patients need corrective enhancement surgery". This data is provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. We are not given context for these statistics, which is important.  Is this 90% of the 1.14 million laser surgeries performed this year? We are not told how many procedures go wrong or result in permanent benign or more serious side effects. 

There are available data in the literature, and this story would have been improved to include more rigorous details on quantification of benefit.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does note the potential harms of treatment, such as dry and irritated eyes and blurry vision, but we are not told how often these happens. The story only provides one patient's anecdotal evidence that the surgery did not work well for him due to lasting uncomfortable side effects.

 

 

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story provides little evidence about the success rate (i.e. how many people report 20/40 or 20/20 vision following either LASIK or PRK), or what is the incidence of lasting negative outcomes from the surgery? After 10+ years of the procedures being performed, there is published data  examining the efficacy and safety of Lasik vs PRK for correction of myopia.(Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD005135) of clinical trials  The story would have been improved with inclusion of some of the available data. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering. Instead, the story provides appropriate caveats that not everyone is a suitable candidate for eye surgery.  Eye surgeons, ophthalmology researchers and patients interviewed elaborate on this point by providing clear information about laser eye surgery and noting some of the pros and cons. 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story does an excellent job providing multiple balanced perspectives on current trends in laser eye surgery. The story includes perspectives from ophthalmologist researchers, laser eye surgeons and patients who have had the procedures.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story provides an excellent overview of some of the newer procedures and techniques for laser eye surgery to correct  vision problems related to the size and shape of the cornea. The story mentions the potential pros and cons of LASIK and PRK surgery, and how a surgeon and a patient might decide which procedure is right, if appropriate at all.

The story provides an excellent service by encouraging people to be educated consumers when making a decision about this heavily promoted eye surgery

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story mentions LASIK is a common surgery, accounting for 87% of all laser eye surgeries last year. The story notes that more surgeons are tailoring techniques and procedures as laser eye surgery grows in popularity, but the story also notes that corrective eye surgery is not a "one size fits all".  The story  mentions newer tools to improve the LASIK and PRK procedures, but it does not mention if these are widely available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story mentions that LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) surgery has been available for 10+ years.  The story includes information that these are not new therapies but rather have had FDA approval for long time.  The story mentions that photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), a procedure where a laser is used to reshape the cornea after the top layer of cells are removed, is now being performed more in lieu of, or in conjunction with LASIK surgery.  The PRK procedure was approved by the FDA in 1995, a few years prior to LASIK.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The story included several independent perspectives, so it is reasonable to assume that it did not rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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