A TV current affairs program confused laser eye surgery with keratoconus cross-linking, and may cause some patients to cancel vision-saving surgery, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) said.
A statement issued by RANZCO stated that despite the recent media story, on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair, “keratoconus cross-linking is vital and necessary to halt the advance of the eye disease keratoconus”.
A Current Affair ran the story on Friday 13 March about a group of patients who received the wrong eye drops after cross-linking was performed in Queensland in 2012. According to RANZCO, the story confused laser eye surgery with keratoconus cross-linking.
RANZCO’s statement said it had “great sympathy for the patients who suffered severe corneal complications as a result” of the treatment.
The Health Quality and Complaints Commission of Queensland found that the ophthalmologist in question was not responsible for the tragedy. The matter is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.
RANZCO stated that its concern was “that other patients booked for routine cross-linking around Australia may fear that the procedure itself is dangerous and cancel vision-saving surgery”.
“Cross-linking is effective in reducing the risk of progressive loss of vision and the need for a corneal transplant by strengthening the cornea, enabling it to hold its proper shape and to protect vision.”
RANZCO stressed caution in referring to all eye surgeries as ‘laser surgeries’, when in fact there are different types of eye surgeries for both common and rare eye diseases.
Dr. Grant Snibson, a corneal specialist who has performed cross-linking, said “Post-operative side-effects to cross-linking – such as light sensitivity and temporary minor blurring – are common for many types of eye surgeries. The vast majority of people suffering from keratoconus and other corneal conditions are suitable for cross-linking, but suitability is always properly assessed by an ophthalmologist, taking into account the patient’s past and present eye health”.