Laser Eye Surgery Lawsuit Verdict Upheld on Appeal

A Maryland eye doctor has been ordered to pay $1 million to a patient who suffered vision damage following a botched Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery. 

In a decision issued earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected an appeal attempt by Dr. Mark Whitten, of Rockland, Maryland, affirming an earlier Pennsylvania jury verdict.

The case involved a laser eye surgery lawsuit that was originally filed in 2006 by David Cantalupo, a Pennsylvania man who lost the ability to see out of his left eye after Dr. Whitten operated on it.

Cantalupo was one of 36 people Dr. Whitten performed LASIK surgery on that day, and he alleged that the eye surgeon failed to properly inform him of the risks associated with the procedure, meaning that the operation was conducted without informed consent. The complaint is one that has frequently been associated with LASIK surgery.

The Pennsylvania jury originally ordered Dr. Whitten to pay Cantalupo $875,000 in damages. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania added $156 per day interest to the decision, bringing the total amount that must be paid to $1.07 million.

LASIK is a form of eye surgery that uses a laser to improve a patient’s vision and reduce their need to wear glasses or contact lenses. During the procedure, a surgical instrument known as a microkeratome is used to cut through the top layers of the cornea to create a flap. A laser beam is then used to reshape the cornea for vision correction and the corneal flap is replaced.

A report published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology in 2008, found that additional surgeries were needed for 28% of the eyes treated with LASIK less than 10 years after the initial surgery, due to undercorrection, overcorrection, or regression. In May 2009, the FDA ordered health care providers to fully disclose that the risks of LASIK surgery in advertisements.

Reports of LASIK problems commonly involve double vision, halos around objects at night and dry eyes. In more severe cases, complications can have a severe impact on an individual’s quality of life.

In October 2009, the FDA opened an investigation into LASIK problems, focusing on how frequently corrective eye surgery problems occur and whether potential predictors for the complications can be identified.

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