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On average, there are more than 128 suicides per day in the United States attempted by people with or without known mental illness.
USA TODAY

DETROIT – One month before she killed herself, Jessica Starr, a meteorologist for a Detroit television station, said. In October she was still struggling with complications such as dry eyes and blurred vision due to her Lasik eye surgery.

"I still need all the prayers and good wishes because it's a tough move," Starr, 35, the meteorologist Fox 2 Detroit (WJBK-TV) and mother of two young children, said in a video on her public Facebook page.

The role of these complications in Starr's death by suicide – if any at all – remains unclear. but her comments brought nationwide headlines about her d more and possible new dangers to popular sight, which has been available since the 1990s and is widely regarded as safe.

News reports and websites such as Lasikcomplications.com cite almost a dozen cases of Lasik patients who have killed themselves because of the unbearable pain and visual disturbances that followed their surgery.

The physical pain often went hand in hand with the psychological regret of having decided on a $ 4,000-round electoral process that, if they had only been bogged down with glasses or contacts, would not be necessary.

Starr said on Facebook posts that she had undergone a recent Lasik-like surgery called SMILE or a small lenticular extraction. This method uses a different laser and eye forming technique. SMILE was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016 and was first held in Michigan last year.

The SMILE procedures are "essentially the same" as in Lasik's and both are very safe, said the eye surgeon dr. John Vukich, Chairman of the American Refractive Surgery Clinical Committee of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery

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"Lasik is the most prevalent surgical procedure in the world," said Vukich, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin personally underwent Lasik. "It's a process that has improved the lives of many people, but as with any surgery, there is never a zero risk."

A Detailed History of the New York Times on the Potential Dangers Lasic underlined the death of Lasik by suicide of a 27-year-old military veteran and the suffering of a Cleveland kindergarten teacher who, due to her constant eye pain, injected a stomach pump and abdominal pain He needed a man from Houston He said he was "almost suicidal" because it felt like there was hot oil in his eyes around the clock.

Close-up view of a Lasik eye surgery. (Photo: Hugh Grannum, Photo by Detroit Free Press)

Paula Cofer, who runs the Lasik complications website and runs a support group for Lasik complications on Facebook, said on Monday in a telephone interview that since the First media Following reports of Starr's death, her support group was contacted by friends or relatives of four Lasik-related deaths from suicide victims.

"What they do not tell you is that there are complications in this operation," said Cofer, 60, who lives near Tampa, Florida, and has had major complications since a Lasik operation in 2000. "If you were to inform patients about anything that I personally believe should be informed, no one would have the surgery."

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She said the worst side effects – though rare – can be incredibly painful and ruin people's lives. Some complications can occur years after surgery, as the structures in the eyes are permanently weakened by laser resurfacing.

"The typical symptoms are chronic dry eye, eye pain, terrible night vision – people just get depressed," Cofer said, adding, "And you're dealing with a surgeon who tells you, 'Oh, you are a success, her vision is now 20/20 ", even though he's in pain.

A study published last year involving 574 participants. The FDA, the National Eye Institute, and the US Department of Defense found that less than 1 percent of people reported difficulty After the Lasik operation, they performed their usual activities.

However, up to 46 percent of participants who had no visual symptoms prior to surgery had visual symptoms three months after surgery and up to 28 percent of participants who had no dry eyes before Lasik reported dry over three months after surgery Eyes.

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Nevertheless, more than 95 percent of all participants were satisfied with their vision after Lasik.

Vukich, the eye surgeon, sai Dry eyes are indeed a common side effect in some Lasik patients. However, these symptoms almost always disappear after three months.

In total, significantly less than 1 percent of Lasik patients report bad experiences.

"There have been 7,000 clinical trials in reviewed journals and the patient-reported satisfaction rate is 96 percent or more," Vukich said.

He added, "The lives of millions of people are literally improved Make sure that when something happens, it attracts a lot of attention. "

How to Get Help

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day (800-273-8255) to consult with a counselor to speak in a crisis.

The warning signs of suicide include: talking about suicide, expressing hopelessness, personality changes, depression or giving away possessions. For more information, see suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Follow JC Reindl on Twitter: @JCReindl

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