Kathy's Lasik Commentary

Here's the deal. I've had severe complications from lasik surgery. My doctor WAS Dr. Robert Maloney of the Maloney Vision Institute in Los Angeles and Extreme Makeover. I will not be going to him again. I've had FIVE surgeries on my right eye. Three were lasik surgeries and one was an attempt at corrective surgery by Maloney. Most recently, I had another corrective surgery by another doctor and let me tell you, once my complications began in 2003, it was a bitch! My last "procedure" was a 90 minute surgery, and I had 17 stitches in my eye for three weeks! Read on for the details, especially if you're considering getting lasik, or you've had lasik and you're considering getting a "new, improved" version of lasik. As of now, I'm not in pain anymore, but my vision in my right eye is extremely blurry. It can't be improved with glasses or contacts. Thanks for all your supportive emails and lasik stories. I've read every one of them...with my good eye!

Kathy G.

Here's a picture of my eye before the last surgery

Click here for a video of the spot on my eye

Here's a picture of my eye after my most recent surgery

Click here for the video diary I did six days after surgery

The truth about my lasik

Dr. Robert Maloney has made a number of statements to the press regarding my condition
Here are the facts:

Dr. Robert Maloney’s Statements vs. The Facts

Maloney Statement #1:  “Kathy had threatened to go public with her story if Dr. Maloney didn’t pay her $250,000”

Contrary to the allegations of Dr. Robert Maloney, Kathy Griffin never demanded that Maloney pay her $250,000.00 and never threatened that, if he refused to pay, she would publicize the damage to her eye resulting from the surgeries performed by Dr. Maloney.

The facts are as follows:

After four eye surgeries by Dr. Maloney, the last being a failed attempt to correct the serious damage following from the previous surgeries, Ms. Griffin consulted legal counsel.  Ms. Griffin’s attorney gave written notice to Dr. Maloney of the claims arising out of her eye injury and stated that if she proceeds to litigation, the amount of her claim, while not presently determined, would be at least $250,000.00 in general damages (the statutory limit in California) plus medical expenses and loss of income.  No specific amount was demanded of Dr. Maloney.  The attorney’s letter concluded by commenting on the obvious inevitability of media attention for both parties in the event of a lawsuit.

After Maloney received this letter, he left Kathy a voice mail asking to meet with Kathy to “settle this thing without getting the lawyers involved.”  Kathy agreed to meet with Dr. Maloney at a neutral location.  During that meeting, Dr. Maloney discussed paying Kathy some money and sending her to Minneapolis to have another surgeon operate on her eye.  He also told Kathy that if the case ever reached court, the resulting media attention would be good for his business and that Kathy’s name would be dragged through the mud.  He mentioned that he would have no choice but to bring up whatever dirt he could find on Kathy including details of her sex life.  Finally, when Kathy asked why this condition had happened to her, Dr. Maloney gave a terse two word response, “Bad Luck.”  After that, Kathy decided against a financial settlement because she would undoubtedly be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.  She realized that it would be more useful and rewarding to alert the public about the risks of laser eye surgery.  Kathy has not filed a lawsuit against Dr. Maloney and she is not planning to. She is, however, spending tens of thousands of dollars to educate the public about the side effects of lasik surgery.

Statement #2:  “The procedure to cure epithelial cell ingrowth is a painless 10 minute procedure”

Kathy recently underwent a 90 minute operation that left her with 17 stitches in her eyeball.  Kathy was put under by an anesthesiologist during the operation and it was performed in an operating room.  Even though the surgery initially appears to be a success, there is still a great deal of concern that these cells could return.  According to Dr. David Hardten, a prominent lasik surgeon, “The recurrence rate can be as high as 60 percent.”

Statement #3:  “Epithelial cell ingrowth occurs in less than one percent of lasik patients”

No study has been cited to support Dr. Maloney’s assertion.  According to the September 2001 Review of Ophthalmology, “The clinically SIGNIFICANT, unwanted growth of corneal epithelial cells in the lasik interface occurs in about 1-2 percent of cases.”  In order to be considered significant, the ingrowth needs to be blocking vision, causing stromal melt, or progressing so rapidly that one of these two occurrences is soon to occur.  Obviously, if the rate for severe ingrowth is between one and two percent, the rate for all ingrowth is higher than 2 percent.  Even if it were as low as 2%, that would mean in a population of 10 million patients, 200,000 people would suffer with this condition.

Statement #4:  “Kathy disregarded Dr. Maloney’s advice to get this injury treated”

Dr. Maloney performed the 3rd lasik procedure, WaveFront, on Kathy on 6/24/03.  This procedure failed to improve Kathy’s vision and for the first time she developed Epithelial Cell Ingrowth.  Dr. Maloney performed surgery #4 on Kathy’s right eye on 7/3/03 for the purpose of removing the cell ingrowth.  It wasn’t until a checkup a few months later that Dr. Maloney told Kathy the Epithelial Cells had returned yet again.  After four eye surgeries and countless visits to Dr. Maloney’s office, Kathy lost confidence in Dr. Maloney’s abilities and assurances.  She began to seek opinions from other doctors.  She saw no reason to keep Dr. Maloney informed of her visits to those other doctors.  It became increasingly apparent that there are many different views on how to treat this injury in the lasik community.

Statement #5:  “Kathy approached Dr. Maloney because of her interest in the Wavefront procedure”

Kathy had never heard the word Wavefront or knew what it was until Maloney’s representatives approached her.  In 2003, Kathy invited Entertainment Tonight to follow her on a humorous journey covering her plastic surgery.  The doctors performing the plastic surgery were represented by a publicist named Gemma Cunningham.  Gemma also handles public relations for Maloney and she approached Kathy about having Maloney perform a new type of lasik called Wavefront on Kathy for the piece.  Kathy was hesitant about having a third procedure performed on her eye but Dr. Maloney assured her that “you can open the eye up 50 times if you want and it won’t matter.”  Kathy relied on that advice and agreed to the surgery.  She ended up with impaired vision and substantial pain attendant to the Epithelial Cell Ingrowth.  According to an article in the 4/5/03 edition of The Telegraph, a British newspaper, “Second operations leave patients more prone to complications.” 

Other controversies involving Dr. Robert Maloney may be found at http://users.tns.net/%7Eequity/LASIK_Casualties_LA/

Dr. Maloney currently being sued by Judy Jade Chang in Los Angeles Superior Court.  Details of the Chang lawsuit can be found at http://www.lasikfraud.com/news/archives/000084.html

Dr. Maloney is a proponent of a new procedure called JewelEye, a procedure in which a stone is implanted into the eyeball.  An archive of a Wall Street Journal article on the procedure can be found at http://www.bookofjoe.com/2004/10/behindthemedspe_39.html.  Here is a picture of the aftermath of this procedure.  (note this is NOT Kathy)

Final thoughts on lasik

You've just read about my experience with one doctor. However, I believe
the problem is with the lasik procedure itself. And that substantial
risks exist no matter which doctor is performing the surgery

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