Texas Optometry Board
On 3/26/2010 I had an elective refractive eye surgery at First Eye Care Dallas and did not receive the Custom LASIK procedure I paid for. On 2/9/2010 Tom Ballard, OD of First Eye Care Dallas personally gave me a written price quote to have a Custom LASIK procedure performed at his facility. The price quote specifically listed the procedure as "Custom LASIK". There was no mention of conventional LASIK or any other procedure on this document. There was also no mention that the procedure could or would be changed without my consent. Multiple doctors who have reviewed my operative reports from 3/26/2010 verified that I did not receive a Custom LASIK treatment. The conventional LASIK treatment I received on 3/26/2010 was performed without my knowledge or consent. The doctors responsible for my care and surgery were Tom Ballard, OD and Larry R. Taub, MD of First Eye Care Dallas.

The timeline of events will not support that both the optometrist and ophthalmologist were in agreement on the procedure that would be performed at time I was given a price quote for Custom LASIK. Therefore, (1) I was either given a quote that misrepresented the procedure I would receive, (2) there was a gap in the documentation and communication between Dr. Ballard and Dr. Taub ensuring that I would receive the Custom LASIK procedure I was quoted to receive, or (3) last minute changes were made to my treatment plan without my knowledge or consent. Regardless, I did not receive the procedure I paid for.

The following information should be provided and questions should be answered:

1.        Dr. Ballard should provide a copy of either the price quote that was distributed to me on 2/9/2010, or a copy of the price quote(s) that he or his staff were distributing during the time frame of 2/9/2010. This will indicate if Dr. Ballard provided unique quotes (Custom vs. conventional LASIK) to patients based on his assessment of their health, or if he provided a blanket quote to all patients that only specified Custom LASIK as the procedure, indicating that patients, including myself, did not receive the procedures we expected to receive and paid for. * The quote provide to me by Dr. Ballard had a unique component that I will disclose separately which could help indicate if the quote(s) provided by Dr. Ballard in response to this complaint are indeed the same as provided to me.

2.        Did Dr. Ballard have authority to specify which procedure I would receive as a patient (Custom LASIK vs. conventional LASIK) without Dr. Taub's concurrence?

3.        If Dr. Ballard had authority, how did he communicate to Dr. Taub that I was to receive Custom LASIK and not conventional LASIK? Is there documentation of this communication?

4.        If Dr. Ballard did not have authority to specify the procedure I would receive, why did he give me the price quote on 2/9/2010 that specifically stated that I would receive a Custom LASIK procedure?

5.        What date did Dr. Taub first review my records?

6.        What date did Dr. Taub and Dr. Ballard agree on the procedure I would receive?

7.        Why did Dr. Taub perform a conventional LASIK treatment when the quote I was given by Dr. Ballard specified Custom LASIK? Why did they not communicate any changes to the treatment plan to me and request my consent prior to performing a procedure other than Custom LASIK?

There was no valid reason for First Eye Care Dallas to deviate from the quoted treatment plan of Custom LASIK without my knowledge or consent. It was not as if this was a life saving procedure that would have warranted a deviation from the quoted procedure. This was a completely elective procedure with an indefinite amount of time to discuss potential options. Dr. Ballard and Dr. Taub did not do this.  First Eye Care Dallas deviated from the procedure I paid for without my knowledge or consent. I made the life altering decision to have refractive surgery performed at First Eye Care Dallas based off of information provided to me by Tom Ballard, OD.

Tom Ballard, OD has claimed that he and the ophthalmologist (Larry R. Taub, MD) chose to perform conventional LASIK to spare tissue due to my high degree of correction (-8.00). This was never discussed with me prior to the surgery. In fact the first time I ever met or spoke with Larry R. Taub, MD was minutes before the procedure, and after I had been administered the Valium. Instead of utilizing older or less accurate procedures to expand their patient population they should have informed me that I was not a candidate for Custom LASIK and discussed options with me. They did not.  I never would have agreed to conventional LASIK since Custom LASIK is more accurate, reduces night vision issues, used advanced algorithms, and was the latest technology when I had the surgery. Eliminating contact lenses and glasses was not important to me, maintaining the quality of my vision was. I only had the procedure because it was supposed to be Custom LASIK as quoted. When I made the decision to have LASIK at First Eye Care Dallas I did so based on the price quote for Custom LASIK. I cannot express enough that I WOULD NOT HAVE AGREED TO CONVENTIONAL LASIK!

Unfortunately I am unable to provide you with the copy of the price quote for Custom LASIK that Tom Ballard, OD gave me. After nearly six months of suffering from severe depression and as a direct result of having my vision damaged, I tried to move beyond my experience and move forward with my life. As part of this effort I disposed of everything I had related to my LASIK surgery, including the written price quote for Custom LASIK that Tom Ballard, OD personally gave me. Once I found that I did not receive the Custom LASIK procedure I paid for I sent numerous requests to Tom Ballard, OD and to First Eye Care Dallas requesting a copy of the price quote they gave me, or copies of the price quotes they were distributing at the time I received mine. This document was going to be provided as evidence to the Texas Optometry Board and Texas Medical Board.

Tom Ballard and his staff have continually refused to provide me with an additional copy of this document as they were aware that the quote provided to me on 2/9/2010 specified Custom LASIK and they did not perform Custom LASIK. On one occasion First Eye Care Dallas mailed a response in regards to one of my requests that was not signed or on any letterhead indicating who wrote the response or even what facility it was from. In this document the respondent claimed "There is no document in your records in regard to a price quote. Additionally, all LASIK procedures were priced equally with no differentiation for Custom LASIK". I have included a copy of the response I received in an envelope from First Eye Care Dallas.

The price being equal for Custom LASIK or conventional LASIK did not give them the right to perform conventional LASIK without my knowledge or consent, or allow them to use the terms interchangeably and refer to all LASIK procedures, including conventional LASIK as being Custom LASIK since there are distinct differences between the procedures and their outcomes.

The conventional LASIK procedure that I did not agree to has caused permanent damage to my vision. Could I have had the same surgical outcome had they performed Custom LASIK, sure? The difference is that I DID NOT CONSENT TO CONVENTIONAL LASIK, and had no intention to. Therefore I would not have had my vision damaged by First Eye Care Dallas. I now wear a $3,500 pair of custom made scleral lenses to help correct my vision and to help prevent the recurring corneal erosions that are a result of having LASIK complications. I paid for these lenses out of pocket as my medical and vision insurance did not cover such costs. I am now faced with a lifetime of vision complications and the significantly increased cost of my vision care. I also have the added burden of depression that I have now suffered from for over two years as a direct result of having my vision damaged and my lifestyle and career options being limited. I had no prior history of depression or any mental health concerns prior to having my vision damaged. I am only 34 years and must be able to continue working for many years before being eligible to retire.

Please consider there is a real person who typed this letter. I had goals that I can no longer achieve and hobbies I can no longer participate in as a direct result of the surgery they performed that I never agreed to. I have a wife I have been married to for over ten years. We had plans together that have been derailed. My damaged vision has had an effect on us that is impossible for me to convey. I am unable to escape from my damaged vision. It interferes with every aspect of my life. I wake up each day and am in pain as I open my dry and irritated eyes. I am unable to enjoy watching TV or movies, I have missed out on, friend's weddings, sporting events and music concerts due to my poor vision. I am also unable to see well at night. My night vision has been ruined with halos, starbursts, glare, and multiple images. I must also travel frequently as part of my job. I am losing the ability to safely drive at night which limits my travel arrangements. Prior to receiving conventional LASIK at First Eye Care Dallas I had worn cheap, disposable soft lenses for more than 15-20 years and never had one single issue with my vision or eye health, or missed one single day of work due to my vision.
I could have been seen by any optometrist and picked up a box of lenses the same day. My treatment is now limited to one of what appears to be only a handful of specialists in the United States for custom scleral lenses. Now it may take weeks to receive replacement lenses, leaving me unable to work. I have missed countless days of work due eye related health issues.

I ask that you please investigate my claim that Tom Ballard, OD of First Eye Care Dallas personally provided me with a written quote for a CUSTOM LASIK procedure at his facility and that Larry R. Taub, MD did not perform the procedure I paid for. The surgery was performed at First Eye Care Dallas by Larry R. Taub, MD.  Again, the timeline of events does not support that both the optometrist and ophthalmologist were in agreement on the procedure that would be performed at time I was given a price quote for Custom LASIK.

First Eye Care Dallas claiming that they do not have a copy of the quote or the quotes they were dispensing at the time of my visit is nothing more than their hiding of evidence that they know will be used against them. A lack of proper record keeping at their facility should not be a valid excuse or considered a lack of evidence to thoroughly investigate this claim. Someone at First Eye Care has a copy of the document(s) used to create the price quotes they were distributing or staff familiar with the quotes could easily reproduce this simple document. Tom Ballard, OD and the First Eye Care Dallas staff have possibly distributed the same quote to hundreds or thousands of patients. It is possible that the only version of a quote they ever distributed specified Custom LASIK as the procedure, even though they performed conventional LASIK procedures. It is also possible that there are other patients who had surgery at First Eye Care Dallas who did not receive Custom LASIK when they expected to.

I have included screen captures taken from the Eye Center of Texas website that explains some of the advantages of Custom LASIK over conventional LASIK such as a 25 greater measurement accuracy of Custom LASIK over convention LASIK. I chose to provide info from this website as the Texas Optometry Board Vice-Chair Randall Reichle, OD practices at this facility so I assume there should be no question about the validity of the information provided. Wouldn't you want Custom LASIK over conventional LASIK? Wouldn't you expect to receive Custom LASIK if you were given a price quote for Custom LASIK and no discussion of any other alternative procedure took place? Wouldn't you also expect that those involved in handling your care be held accountable if they performed conventional LASIK instead of Custom LASIK, especially if the surgery performed resulted in permanent damage to your vision and a significant financial burden?

This complaint is being submitted to both the Texas Optometry Board and the Texas Medical Board as both an optometrist and an ophthalmologist were involved.