The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) has announced that it will participate in a post-LASIK quality of life study with the Joint LASIK Study Task Force, which includes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Eye Institute (NEI), ASCRS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. ASCRS also announced that the ASCRS Foundation has committed funds to support this effort. The FDA reaffirms that LASIK is both safe and effective. The Joint LASIK Study Task Force now will examine LASIK'S impact on the quality of patients' daily lives. Simply defined, quality of life refers to a patient's ability to perform the activities of daily living, everything from driving, daily routine, family life, career and sports performance, to personal appearance, after LASIK. While the FDA reports that nearly all patients are satisfied with their procedure, the study will seek to qualify LASIK's benefits and provide greater understanding of the very few patients whose expectations are not met with the procedure, with the goal of identifying ways to enhance patient care.

"To date, there have been few studies that looked specifically at quality of life. Most have focused on patient satisfaction - which is extraordinarily high for LASIK - but satisfaction is just one component of quality of life," said Kerry Solomon, MD, ASCRS co-chair of the

Joint LASIK Study Task Force and professor of ophthalmology, Medical University of South Carolina. "The study will give us invaluable insight on the many and diverse factors that make up quality of life. This new knowledge will ultimately be a great benefit to patients and doctors alike."

Possible study outcomes could include a more holistic approach to patient screening and pre-operative patient counseling, with considerations for both physical and psychodynamic factors, as well as a better understanding of the myriad factors that comprise quality of life.

"The FDA deserves credit for orchestrating the Joint LASIK Study Task Force, and it has been a pleasure to work in concert with them, the National Eye Institute (NEI), and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), to develop a study that will ensure patients get the most from America's most-popular elective procedure," said Richard L. Lindstrom, MD, co-chair of the Joint LASIK Study Task Force and immediate past president of the ASCRS. "When a procedure advances as far as LASIK has, both technologically and clinically, having a greater understanding of quality of life will help both patients and doctors, and could provide the next breakthrough in the procedure's performance."

Why Now?

Between 1998 and 2006, the FDA received a total of 140 comments relating to LASIK dissatisfaction, representing less than 1 in 10,000 U.S. LASIK patients. In 2006, the FDA re-evaluated symptoms and satisfaction data and reaffirmed that while the vast majority of LASIK patients were indeed satisfied with their outcomes, a few were not. In 2007, the Joint LASIK Study Task Force was formed to look into quality of life and the feasibility of a post-LASIK study. As part of this process, the FDA Ophthalmic Device Panel Medical Devices Advisory Committee will discuss post-market experience with both phakic intraocular lenses (phakic IOLs) and LASIK at its regularly scheduled April 24-25 meeting.