Texas Optometry Board
September 15, 2012

Dear First Eye Care Associate,

I am contacting you because I have a very serious issue with First Eye Care advertising that you are an association of optometrists with the shared philosophy of "Vision Made Clear". My vision was clear and easily correctable with disposable soft contact lenses prior to receiving care from one of the First Eye Care doctors, Tom Ballard, OD and having LASIK performed at his Dallas facility by Larry R. Taub, MD. I have since spent thousands of dollars over the past two and a half years trying to have my vision corrected. I now suffer from uncorrectable vision and wear a $3,500 pair of custom made scleral lenses that I paid for out of pocket. My vision is not correctable with glasses. I am very limited to where I can go for eye care now because of the complicated nature of my vision and the cost for my vision care has increased significantly. If I experience any eye related issues that prevent me from wearing my contact lenses I am unable to drive or work. I experience drastic fluctuations in my vision throughout the day, have recurring corneal erosions, floaters that interfere with my vision, dry eyes, large starbursts, halos, glare, multiple images, and other vision complications that I never new existed prior to having LASIK. How does lying to patients and performing unnecessary refractive surgeries that can leave patients with uncorrectable vision for the rest of their lives fit into a Vision Made Clear philosophy?

I think Tom Ballard, OD is dishonest, unethical, and engages in illegal tactics and business practices. Please understand that I am not contacting you just because I am unhappy with my results from having two LASIK procedures performed at Dr. Ballard's facility in 2010. I am contacting you because of the circumstances of how LASIK was presented to me prior to the surgeries, how Dr. Ballard and Dr. Taub treated me after I had complications from the surgeries, and how Dr. Ballard deviated from the standard of care I expected from a doctor advertising a Vision Made Clear philosophy. I accepted that there were risks associated with having surgery. I did not accept that the optometrist and ophthalmologist responsible for my care would lie to me, deceive me, or deviate from the quoted procedure. Dr. Ballard and the ophthalmologist, Dr. Larry R. Taub, lied to me and purposely withheld relevant information from me, which duped me into a procedure I would not have had if they had provided me with honest information. As a result of their dishonesty my vision has been permanently damaged. My life has been derailed and I am now unable to fully perform my job duties as a mechanical engineer in the aerospace and defense industry where I design, troubleshoot, and support products that help keep you and your families' safe everyday. I can also no longer safely participate in the sport of boxing which I was significantly involved in prior to having LASIK. 

On 2/9/2010 Tom Ballard, OD personally gave me a written quote for Custom LASIK. The following month I paid for the procedure and underwent the first surgery. I have since found that Dr. Ballard and the ophthalmologist, Dr. Larry R. Taub, did not perform Custom LASIK, but rather conventional LASIK instead. This has been confirmed by multiple doctors who have reviewed my operation reports. I did not receive the procedure I paid for and I never consented to conventional LASIK at any time. This was a breach of contract and an illegal act that tricked me into a surgery that ultimately ruined my vision. If at any time I would have been notified that I was not a candidate for Custom LASIK I would not have had the surgery. I was not willing to have surgery performed using old technology when better software and algorithms existed.

I was training to participate in the Dallas Golden Gloves prior to the surgery. Both Dr. Ballard and Dr. Taub assured me it would be safe for me to continue boxing after having LASIK. My wife was present for the conversation with Dr. Taub. Dr. Taub event went out of his way to explain how a boxing glove is a large, blunt object that would not damage my eyes. This was a lie. It is no longer safe and I have the lifelong risk of having a displaced corneal flap. Dr. Ballard stole from me the once in a lifetime opportunity for me to participate in the Dallas Golden Gloves and has robbed me of my ability to participate in a sport that kept me healthy and happy. I would never have traded my ability to participate in boxing to get out of disposable contact lenses. Eliminating disposable contact lenses was not that important to me.

Dr. Ballard purposely withheld relevant information from me prior to the first surgery. He provided me with two informed consent forms, one prior to each of the two surgeries I had on both eyes that were six months apart. The consent form prior to the first surgery on both eyes in March 2010 made no mention of how degree of correction or pupil size would increase my risks of night vision issues, decrease the accuracy of the procedure, increase healing times, or otherwise increase my risks for an unsuccessful outcome. These items were not disclosed to me until November 2010 just prior to having a retreatment of both eyes. The second document was noted at the bottom of the last page "Revised 02/2008". They had this information for more than two years before my first surgery and purposely did not disclose this info to me. This is also the first time there was any mention of being able to lift the corneal flap for years after the procedure. This too would have caused me to decline the surgeries. I would never have accepted the long term risks associated with having a corneal flap that could be lifted for years. Copies of these documents are on my website.

The LASIK procedures were performed within clear view of the lobby at First Eye Care Dallas. There was also a designated seating area for spectators to watch the surgeries through a large glass window and on a large flat panel monitor. This gave the false impression that the risks associated with LASIK were trivial and also misled me. Dr. Ballard and Dr. Taub sold me LASIK as if it were as risk free as a hair cut. This could not have been further from the truth.

Dr. Ballard displayed a general lack of caring when I spoke with him about my vision complications after LASIK. Comments such as "I don't see how this can be so debilitating", and when I questioned him about pupil size and my night vision issues he stated "Its not like you spend a lot of time in these lighting conditions". The truth was that I spent a significant amount of time in dim or dark lighting conditions both at work and at home. The generally advertised higher incidence of night vision issues from conventional LASIK is another reason I would never have consented to conventional LASIK and was only willing to have Custom LASIK.

Dr. Ballard also displayed misleading and false information on the First Eye Care Dallas website with regards to his success rates when I had my surgeries. I will be uploading screen captures of this info to my website in the near future. Dr. Ballard has demonstrated a history of dishonest advertising and continues to lie to potential patients about his customer satisfaction. The customer reviews posted on his website are screened and serious negative reviews are not posted. I have submitted one star negative reviews that met all criteria at the time they were submitted, however they were never posted. I contacted DemandForce, who is responsible for handling the reviews for Dr. Ballard's website and they initially said they would look into it, but later responded that they could not comment. Advertising false customer satisfaction ratings is false advertising. There is absolutely no reason anyone in a position such as a doctor should be dishonest in anyway to patients. There is no excuse.

I have contacted each one of you because you should hold yourselves as well as your peers to the high standards that support a "Vision Made Clear" philosophy. Advertising a shared philosophy of "Vision Made Clear" gives potential patients the impression that all of your doctors truly share in this philosophy and that they can expect clear vision after receiving your services. No one expects to have their vision permanently ruined by their optometrist or ophthalmologist. If you are going to advertise the shared philosophy of "Vision Made Clear" I ask that you please do the right thing and only provide safe methods of vision correction to your patients and only represent doctors who do no harm. If you could spend one day with my damaged vision you could understand why providing truthful information to your patients is so important.

I have only provided brief details of my concerns in this letter and there is more that you can view on my personal website: www.mikeslasikhell.com. Like many other injured patients I have chosen to publicly disclose my experience on the internet and through other public forums to warn others and potentially save them from a lifetime of unhappiness because their vision has been permanently damaged. You can dismiss my contacting you as nothing more than a dissatisfied patient's attempt to disrupt business for his former doctor, or you can take my claims seriously and act responsibly by holding Tom Ballard, OD responsible for his dishonest and illegal actions and ensure that future patients are not lied to or injured.