Dean Kantis – Life After Lasik

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Our first conversation / interview, is with Dean Andrew Kantis, founder of the website

A little background information…Dean Kantis has been instrumental in raising awareness for post-LASIK complications, through his website and by working with several others on approaching the FDA, and was responsible for contacting Dr. Morris Waxler, the former FDA chief scientist, responsible for approving LASIK back in the 90’s.

Interviewer: My first question would be to ask, what got you motivated into having LASIK, and when was this? And can you tell us a little about how you felt pre-operatively about the surgery in general, the clinic and surgeon you intended to visit.

Dean Kantis: I was motivated to get LASIK because I wanted relief daily from putting contacts in and out, glasses on and off, since I was 11 years old until the time I had LASIK at 30 years old… Pre-operatively speaking, I played a lot of sports: boating, fishing, golf, tennis, bicycling, swimming, beach volleyball, dirt bike riding etc…and contacts would be challenging as many times they would fall out or get sand in them, or cloud up or whatever…So I just wanted to see perfectly clear vision and have an “equal” eye to others I was playing sports with.

I wanted to go to one of the best, that had already done a lot of LASIK procedures, so I flew to Chicago, IL as my mom suggested he was a dear friend and would be like family-in looking out for me, so I felt a sense of “ASSURANCE” and a sense that I “INSURED-GUARANTEED” that it would go perfectly even though there was extra expense involved out of state/taxi’s/hotel expenses incurred etc… I could have easily have gone to one of the local LASIK doctors near me in Ft. Lauderdale, but since my aunt and mom had success with this LASIK doctor, I too wanted to then get relief from eye correction and wake up naturally seeing crystal “HIGH DEFINITION” clear…

I asked around and at that time, I didn’t hear one negative story from anyone about being hurt… I only heard positive and positive stories, so I did it…Remember one thing: “I DIDN’T HEAR ONE NEGATIVE…NOT ONE…HAD I HEARD ONE NEGATIVE, I WOULD NOT HAVE DONE IT!”

Please keep in mind, I waited 3 years to make sure that it was still “FDA safe, proven and effective” and then had it done on Aug. 24th, 1999. (It was approved in 1996-1997 in the USA…although keep in mind, was already approved 3-5 years previously in Europe…so really it’s been going on for about 10 years at that time).

Interviewer: It’s interesting to hear that you had family members who had it done by the same doctor and were happy. Regarding myself, I knew work colleagues and friends who had it done and were happy with the results. Although one of my colleagues has now regressed considerably.

I had heard a few negative stories on the internet, bearing in mind my own surgery was only in early 2012, but not for the clinic I attended nor for the surgeon, and I believed that the technology was safe and ‘perfected’. The surgeon had a perfect track record as far as I could see, and in fact, I had read that people had travelled far to see him, just as you had with yours, he also previously worked in a large and prestigious eye hospital, so I felt assured. I also had similar motivations for being ‘glasses’ free.

I can remember in the clinic, there were ‘thank you’ cards everywhere and everything was so plush, made of wood and felt very professional, though in the pit of my stomach I felt a little nervous, but was assured that problems were rare and correctable, and that I would be looked after.

Can you tell us, did you have any concerns at all going into the surgery? Did the surgeon / clinic, go through the consent form and make you fully aware, and informed of the decision you were making. Did they mention anything that made you concerned regarding large pupils, and that the laser could not fully treat them? Did they measure your pupil size, if so, what was the measurement, and how large was intended treatment zone, and was it fully discussed with you?

Dean Kantis: I think I felt the level of confidence that you had…but I wasn’t nearly as nervous. I remember feeling/saying to myself “the worst thing that could happen from what I knew about LASIK was that I would have a different lesser prescription from -6.5 to maybe -1.5 or something like that if I had to go back to contacts or glasses…” That is it. No halos, streaks, contrast issues, dry eye drops daily, double vision, loss of 3D vision now I see in 1D vision like looking at a painting to see life…custom made lenses, spent $40k since trying to fix what LASIK f….d up…etc…

You’ll love this…that day…Dr. Caro came out after doing LASIK on one patient and said “hi Dean….you’re coming etc…” “And I looked him in the face and said Dr. Caro…thanks…If there is a 1% chance that it isn’t going to be perfect for me…let me know now, no problem, I’ll spend my time visiting Chicago, IL…” He looked me in the eyes and said “Dean…you’re going to love it…trust me!” That was about 15 min. or so before I did it…and during the procedure, one of my eyes went BLACK/DARK SCREEN for 3-4 seconds and thank GOD then came back “ON”…not sure what caused that but it scared the hell out of me…I wonder if it was from the microkeratome suction or laser…I forgot…kind of blocked that part out…I immediately got up from the procedure and felt like a thousand needles sticking my eyes…they gave me drops and shooo’d me out of the area so others didn’t see me…that would be bad for business…but 15 minutes later the needle pain was gone…Now looking back, I remember I think on one of my eyes that I hear Dr. Caro talking with his assistant who handed him the Microkeratom/Hansatone?? And made a “UGGHHH” winded, sound to himself and to her…now I know something went wrong…He sure did a phenomenally egregious job at hiding that because ALL MY FOLLOW UP was done by Dr. Pannu near me in Ft. Lauderdale who for the next 3 years covered for him and made sure I didn’t know anything went wrong and kept me tied to their clinic FOR FREE to protect Dr. Caro…and get this, to “PUSH ME PAST THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS” or the point to sue or find an attorney to sue, which is 2 years from the date of the surgery, NOT FROM when I finally figured this out…that burns me to this day…out of even the visual loss and despair that this surgery has caused me with no let up over 13 years, that we all trusted these doctors, I paid for 3-4 other 2nd opinions who also lied, and yet look at our ongoing pain, loss of work, medical bills ($40,000 USD and counting), time to take off of work, drive or fly out of state/country to see “specialists” that charge a fortune…and NOT ONE DOLLAR are we able to sue for their lies ongoing and we carry the burden of THEIR DAILY SINS on our backs, in OUR EYES…that’s why I do what I do…I want revenge and avenge against all of the people involved in this “MEDICAL COVER UP”…I want patients to know the truth, who also can relate to being lied to all for the lousy $2,500-$5,000 the physician and sales clerk got, to get mad and go voice this anger at the people that were involved and how they should be put in a jail cell for violating this patient/doctor/staff trust…even if it’s also those at the FDA that are allowing for this to happen after also swearing an oath to protect the public, serve the public, and discipline the physicans/staff/referring physicians…where is the justice? That’s always been my cause…to get even and then some! But legally of course…

I remember during the procedure, the suction ring felt so tight and the pressure so intense that I was all of a sudden VERY SCARED and QUIET…I remember thinking to myself that if I had known how much suction they use for that, in making the “permanent flap cut,” I would have never have had LASIK…Just to tell you a fact, I always had “WHITE SCLERAS” and yet after LASIK…immediately after LASIK like that day or the next, yellow fat deposits exactly on each eye formed at exactly 9’oclock and 3’oclock…exactly on both eyes and remain still to this day. Yet when I bring this up, every single LASIK quack tells me that I just didn’t recognize that they were always there and am being too critical… See how they dismiss anything that could be a negative to their livelihood and earning potential, or present a liability/lawsuit/or medical crime?

Interviewer: I understand your pain. The FDA stated that less than 1% of people would experience side effects and this was with the early technology, and that these side effects were temporary. Obviously, that’s not true, as there have been so many injured, and continue to be. The blackout of your vision, to me would seem like a retinal issue, perhaps from the suction ring, which gives a hard pull on the eye. Many people do not realise that this pulling motion can cause retinal tears and detachments, and causes floaters.

My own experience was that I was repeatedly told that my eyes needed time to heal, that my eyes were dry and I needed to take more drops and that it would take time for ‘neural adaptation’. Luckily I had a close friend who worked at an eye hospital who knew a trust worthy refractive surgeon, who was willing to see me and give me a real opinion, though I had to pay for this all myself. It was either get ‘free’ help from the clinic that damaged my eyes, who had no intention of telling me that something wasn’t right, or paying, and I had no choice.

Others have told me similar stories, in that they make people wait until the statute of limitations has passed, and it is no longer possible to take legal action. Also, the variation in second opinions is astounding, it seems that some surgeons will simply blame, under correction or tell patients that they have ‘especially sensitive eyes’ – almost to make the patient feel like they are different and awkward.

Regarding the ‘cover up’, by Dr. Pannu, can you explain how they kept yourself tied to the clinic for such a long time? What made you finally decide that things really were not going to get better, and what did you do initially once you realised that were going to be stuck like this?

Dean Kantis: Well exactly… I also paid to make sure and insure that it wasn’t a mistake etc…and went to (4) follow up docs. By the way, in revenging those assholes, here are the complaints I issued on each accusing them of ripping me off financially and lying to my face after I paid each to be honest and for an honest assessment. Notice how each says “DENIED” as there at the top of the Dept. of Regulation sits a “Medical Coordinator/Physician” to protect them…nobody cared about this…even to this day, this is how it works…it’s an organized white collar physician mafia to be honest, where those at the FDA in positions of power, directors, are lying to the public…they were put and “tapped” into those positions of power by the industry to watch over profits and use the FDA lawyers/regulators/inspectors to “put their competition out of business!” Seriously…the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, her husband takes medical companies requiring FDA APPROVAL public…is that not a financial/criminal conflict of “BIASED FINANCIAL INTEREST” that she’s the one that stamps “APPROVED” or “DENIED” on each submission?

Ok so back to your story…and mine…the answer is I paid for both (4) 2nd opinions and actually come to think of it, Dr. Pannu who covered for Dr. Caro charged my insurance and made money ongoing and maybe didn’t charge me a co-pay or something like that… So either way, I did all I could do as a person, civilian, and everyone lied to me and still lies to cover fellow doctors, just like Todd Krouner (lawyer) got one of these cockaroaches to say under oath and admit:

Dr. Niksarli called Wing Chu, M.D., from New York City, to discuss his so-called independent examination of the plaintiff. On cross-examination, Dr. Chu testified that his version of the Hippocratic Oath, in part, translates to first do no harm to any ophthalmologist.

By the way, the LASIK doctor was accused and it was proven, that he altered the patient’s medical charts and lied under oath, but he didn’t got to jail! See what I mean…no justice!

I was tied to Dr. Pannu because I knew that he was checking me on a regular basis, kept me seeing multiple doctors at his clinic who checked on me on each visit (probably behind the closed doors there was a major briefing going on saying this is what NOT TO DO LASIK like using me as an example), so it wasn’t until late 2004/early 2005 until I went ONLINE and started searching for clues and answers as to “how the HELL did this happen to me…I thought I was the perfect candidate…what went wrong…can I get cured…who can cure me…OMG is this my new norm from here…will I get worse each year??”

Also, for the first 3 or so years post LASIK, I had really bad photophobia outside and was always wearing sunglasses due to the excessive tearing ongoing… For the first year post LASIK, my right/OD eye was horrific, so I went back to Caro and had his “new laser” enhance that eye which made it much better but of course, still nothing like it used to be…

Interviewer: It’s so hard to believe that doctors are actually lying to patients. What is really concerning, is that your story is not unique – if it was only you this happened to, it would still be a serious concern, but you could almost see it as an isolated case. Unfortunately thats not the case… my doctor lied to me in a similar fashion (as did his staff), telling me that there was nothing wrong with my eyes, that I just had to ‘wait for neural adaptation’. What the surgeons don’t tell their patients, is that neural adaption has proven to only occur when the problems are quite small. When your eyes are grossly aberrated, your brain simply cannot digest the information and they never will. The surgeons and clinics just want to string you along and stop bothering them. So they say ‘it will take time to heal’ or ‘wait for you brain to adapt’…etc

Our stories, are absolutely not unique, and they are over a decade apart. This to me, shows an inherent culture of deceit within the ophthalmic community, almost like dealing with organised crime. This is a big business, and they do not want individuals with serious problems spoiling their income.

I believe there are a few issues at hand.

  • Not everyone is suitable for refractive surgery – with EBMD and large pupils, you were obviously a poor candidate. No one should have touched your precious eyes.
  • The clinics / surgeons rarely assess people correctly. They do not want to lose business, especially in a downward economy. Therefore they will continue to perform surgery on patients regardless of their suitability.
  • Surgeons make mistakes, so even if you are a ‘perfect’ candidate, you could end up with problems anyways.
  • Long term, no one really knows what will happen to peoples corneas, the pathological changes that start to occur, due to the laser, the cutting of the flap and the use of dangerous drugs such as Mitomycin C (MMC) with surface ablation (LASEK/PRK).

Dean Kantis: Long-Term they do know and always have known what the KNOWN long-term damages are. First, the flap never heals. That’s one! Second, the corneal nerves don’t grow back like before and regenerate like a lizzard’s tail that falls off and then grows another one in it’s place, that’s one. Dry eye for every eye, not producing tear film the way the eyes used to and over the entire surface area of the eye evenly dispersed, that’s 3! Just go to any Walgreens/CVS store and see how they are now putting in bold/center letters “FOR LASIK DRYNESS”…they wouldn’t be putting that on there unless MILLIONS suffer…The flap pit, that was ablated/flattened away, is now reshaped and no longer does the eye’s flap fit perfectly there, that disperses tear film differently now, that’s 4. UV light damage, from every LASIK FDA approved laser, that’s 5 which causes haze and discoloration and cell mutations under the epithelial surface etc. 6: The flap creation process causes floaters and known longer term problems, plus it takes 98% of the strength and structure that keeps the eye rigid/normal and detrimentally hurts the eye leaving it with only 2% of it’s original tensile strength! 7: Thinning out the corneal wall is not good and is not normal, then promoting an environment for that part of the corneal wall to “bubble” or “burst” outward causing Post LASIK Ectasia… Lastly, accelerating the aging process of the eye and/or the need to have cataract surgery earlier rather than later is 8! So, here are 8 known long-term damages that are easily proven and shown here:

Interviewer: Add to that, the poor aftercare, dishonest medical professionals and the fact that these problems are un-correctable and the system now seems completely flawed.

So my next question… what would you say to those who are thinking of having this procedure, or have had the procedure and are happy with the results?

Dean Kantis: Just because a patient has had LASIK and seems happy with the outcome after 1 week, 1 month, 1 year or even 10 years does NOT MEAN it worked or they are happy for the long-term. The reality is that at any time they can and will regress. Most of the hurt patients, dissatisfied patients, and depressed/suicidal patients that reach out to me are actually from patients who had LASIK recently (within the past 3 years after they thought that the industry worked out the glitches etc…but was wrong, that they too fell prey and now suffer with no cure)…

One message I would say is the only message I or you can say which is: “The only way to protect yourself against permanently damaging your eyes and opening up that Pandora’s Box is to just say “NO” to LASIK!” That way…the patient/person keeps their “normal life” and continues status quo…Once a patient gives control of their eyes to a doctor(s) group, they’re done and out of control! Everything goes up…medical yearly checkups go up once someone has LASIK they’re considered “complicated corneas” and plan on spending 3x times the amount for checkups etc…

Interviewer: Do you know people, who were initially happy, who’s eyes have regressed and are now unhappy to have wasted money (and precious cornea) on the procedure?

Dean Kantis: For those family, friends, and strangers I’ve talked to that have gone 5, 7, 10 years and tell me they’re happy…I just dig a little deeper…asking questions about their nighttime vision and then soon find they no longer play tennis at night due to halos/starbursts etc…or they no longer drive at night. Or some are now on daily tear drops for the rest of their lives due to Post LASIK Dry Eye…or somehow one eye has regressed and they “live with that” and quickly dismiss all of these permanent damages as “no big deal.” I think that’s the real magic trick that has transpired with these LASIK victims that claim “they’re so happy” is that the industry has been able to “brainwash them and their definition of success” into being whatever they want it to be…Certainly, there are a small number which is really the minority that have gone 10+ years and I do believe them that they are completely happy (so far…) and have very, very, small pupils daytime or nighttime, and do not notice any dry eye or have it and don’t realize it, where it doesn’t effect them or their lifestyle…or again, they just don’t notice it because their “new LASIK eyes” are “desensitized” etc…But again, yes, I do know of some cases where individuals seem happy after 10 years…(both eyes) are still happy with no regression.

Secondly, years later my mom regressed…now had cataract surgeries on BOTH LASIK EYES in her early 60s, yet her mom didn’t have that until in her 80’s…so you can see how LASIK exponentially ages the cornea…and creates future income, residual income ongoing for the Ophthalmologists! I’ve Spoken to a lot of individuals whom have had LASIK, and many/most/all of them say that they’re having cataract surgery in their late 50’s to 60’s…Do you think this is a coincidence?

Interviewer: Excellent, informative and quite scary information you have there. The long term effects alone should be enough to stop people going ahead with this surgery.

I think to conclude… every patient that has this surgery and has problems, even what they might consider minor, needs to report the problem to the FDA. People need to realise that the refractive correction of LASIK is usually temporary and can be incorrect. Refractive surgery can permanently ruin your eyesight, it is not a ‘simple treatment’ like getting your nails done or your hair. It is serious surgery on your eyes – your only eyes, and the surgery is irreversible! The fact that it can be done in a clinic on your high street, does not mean the government has made it safe for you.

I also believe that the majority of patients are not really satisfied, and that they say they are just to please their clinic and also, they are embarrassed to say they are not happy. The fact is, there isn’t much they can do once the damage has been done, they just have to get on with life as best they can. Some eyes are more damaged than others, but in reality all eyes are damaged.

If people understood and knew how much risk they had with conditions such as ectasia, flap dislodging and even general loss of vision, which could happen any time after surgery, 10 years, 20 years, who knows.. they would know choose not to have this surgery. It really is a question of real informed consent.

And finally, if you have one message to give to patients who have been hurt by LASIK (or other refractive surgery), what would it be?

Dean Kantis: I’m so so so sorry… that you and I (and approximately millions of us long-term will suffer) have been permanently damaged by this medical crime upon humanity that is going unnoticed and undisciplined by our Congress, our President, our FDA…allowing these medical groups to act like “organized criminals-a white collar medical mafia” (not disciplining them and condoning this criminal behavior is really acting as an accomplice which also is a medical crime) against the very people they FIRST promised to protect and help… We are now clearly the enemy and it’s going to take a catastrophic event of some sort (says Dr. Morris Waxler and we all agree seeing how the FDA has ignored his petition and warnings) to get things to change and for us to be seen and for us to be helped with our daily suffering…

Interviewer: Special thank you to Dean Kantis, for the fantastic insight on the issues surrounding Life After Lasik

Read Dr. Waxler’s petitionRequest a Public Health Advisory with a voluntary recall of LASIK devices in an effort to stop the epidemic of permanent eye injury caused by lasers and microkeratomes used for LASIK eye surgery.

If you have had a bad outcome then please speak out by reporting your complication. People are suffering, if you are willing to stand up to help them and prevent others from going through the same problems, or if you have had surgery and are unhappy to find out that the lasik flap can be easily dislodged for the rest of your life, or that the clinic used toxic MMC in your eyes, then please sign the petition! We need YOUR help!