Quality & Patient Safety

Lasik eye surgery poses safety concern in Japan

Patient Safety Monitor: Global Edition, March 17, 2009

Public concern is rising after a Tokyo eye clinic revealed that 67 patients have suffered from infection as a result of Lasik refractive eye surgery, according to Daily Yomiuri Online. Authorities from Chuo Ward, a public health center, announced that the patients had either contracted conjunctivitis or corneitis at the Ginza Ganka clinic within the ward.

Each year in Japan, the Japanese Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (JSCRS) estimates that about 450,000 Lasik surgeries are done to about 230,000 patients. The surgery can cost anywhere from 100,000 yen (1,000 USD) to 500,000 yen (5,000 USD) and because the procedure is not covered by public health insurance, patients have to pay the entire fee themselves.

According to the Daily Yomiuri Online, at Tokyo Dental College Suidobashi Hospital, Professor Hiroko Bissen-Miyajima conducts around 300 Lasik surgeries a year and said that if the patients' eyes have been examined and operated on properly, the surgery is completely safe.

"Only one in 5,000 people get a serious infection as a result of Lasik surgery," says Professor Tetsuro Oshika of Tsukuba University and chairman of the JSCRS. "The surgery itself is not difficult…precisely because these operations are carried out on healthy eyes, accidents cannot be allowed."

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