At one of my appointments within a couple weeks of the first surgery I asked Dr. Ballard if I had received the CustomVue procedure and he said "Yes". Dr. Ballard lied to me. The data sheets from my first surgery indicate that the procedure I had was "Myopia and Astigmatism". My second surgery data sheets indicate the procedure as "Waveprint Treatment" and the calibration table also listed CustomVue, which was not present in the first surgery data sheets. It appeared to me that I did not receive the CustomVue treatment that addressed higher order aberrations during the first surgery. Also at one of my subsequent appointments Dr. Ballard stated that due to the high degree of correction it would take longer for my eyes to heal. This is the first time he mentioned this.
Starting about a month or so after the first surgery until I had the second surgery I had extremely good vision for only a few minutes each day after waking up. Dr. Ballard was never able to explain why this was happening. He thought it was dryness so he prescribed Restasis, which I used for a number of months without any improvement in my vision quality. Everyday it was the same routine of waking up with good quality vision where I could read the street sign above the stop sign in the yard of the house behind me with no problem. By the time I got my breakfast together my vision was already deteriorating. About 1.5 hours later I would be at the bus station and the multiple images were separated by larger distances and the halos and starbursts were becoming larger even though the sun is now up. By the end of the day things were extremely blurry, starbursts would occur on everything that was illuminated or contrasted in color. I would be physically exhausted each day by this. It was also difficult because I was seeing things, that while I understood why they were happening, it was still difficult for me to process this input because it was very unnatural. For example starbursts and multiple images from a distant object would obscure an intermediate object. One example would be when stopped at a stoplight, starbursts and halos from the stoplights would cover the cars between me and the stoplight, preventing me from seeing them. I was lied to about the severity of the night vision issues I would have.
Nearly everyday after the first surgery until the re-treatment surgery on 11/19/10, I had my wife drop me off at the bus/train station where I took the company shuttle to and from work everyday, except for days when I had to leave for a doctor appointment. The surgeries performed by Dr. Taub and managed by Dr. Ballard had reduced my independence. I rode the shuttle because I was unable to see well in the dark and all of the vision aberrations were causing a significant amount of stress for me. For example, when stopped at an intersection, the multiple images of the signal lights were spaced very far apart. The additional images below the lights were halfway to the ground. The multiple images were nearly as bright as the original and this occurred with all objects, especially contrasting or illuminated objects. All reflective objects such as road signs, road reflectors, etc. would emit large starbursts, glare, and multiple images as well. Light streaks from starburst in my rear view mirror from car headlights behind me would extend beyond the edge of the mirror and in front of my windshield. This would prevent me from seeing what was in front of me. No longer driving in the dark was another unexpected lifestyle change I had to make.
During this time I also had significant difficulty performing my daily work. A significant portion of my job is to troubleshoot video anomalies. These video artifacts were often identical to issues I had with my vision after the surgery. This made it extremely difficult to determine if it was a true video anomaly or if it was my vision giving me problems. Another large part of my work involves troubleshooting mechanical failures. In doing so I am often working with my hands in tight places and working with tools near very delicate optics or electronics. There were many occasions where I deferred work to others as I was afraid of damaging our products. I also used a computer often for my work. As a mechanical engineer a part of my job is design work. I use the program Pro Engineer to model and create drawings for parts and assemblies. When creating drawings the screen has a black background with yellow lettering, symbols, lines, etc. This was extremely difficult for me to use as the yellow lettering, lines, symbols, etc. would appear as multiple images, and on complex drawings I would just get overwhelmed by the clutter on the screen from so many overlapping features. I could no longer perform my job duties to the extent I could prior to having LASIK. Another issue was being unable to make out the faces of people at work until they were very close to me. I mentioned this to Dr. Ballard. I had a number of instances where I would say something to someone in passing in the hallway only to find they were not who I thought they were. After a few instances of this I just stopped acknowledging people unless they were close or I knew with certainty who they were.
After the first surgery my vision never improved well enough to return to boxing even if I were confident the surgery would not have put me at greater risk of eye injury. Dr. Ballard and Dr. Taub lied to me about being able to continue my participation in boxing. I completely stopped watching TV, Movies, or playing video games with my wife. My daily routine consisted of me just laying in bed and listening to music on my mp3 player after work as I was unable to see well enough to do anything else. The first surgery ruined a trip that my wife and I had planned to Fredericksburg, TX with 6 of our friends. I told Dr. Ballard that we had a trip planned a month or so after the first surgery and was told that I would be OK by then. I was unable to see well during this trip that we had planned for months, and I was just miserable while there.
I had approximately 8 follow up appointments with Dr. Ballard or his staff after the first surgery. Each time I was told a similar line of my eyes look healthy, everything is healing well, just give it time. There was also an appointment when Dr. Ballard stated he didn't know why I was having trouble because I was seeing almost 20/20. Visual acuity does not demonstrate vision quality. My experience is that higher order aberrations are extremely troubling and can be present with 20/20 visual acuity.
Sometime after the first surgery I also started seeking additional opinions on my vision issues. One of the doctors I visited with was Dr Newman (Not of Newman & Taub). On my first visit with Dr. Newman, he spent probably 1.5-2 hours working with me in an attempt to correct my vision. It was at this appointment that he told me that from my records it appeared that Dr. Ballard had performed a broad beam LASIK procedure and planned to follow it up with an additional procedure if needed. I was never told this by Dr. Ballard. At this point I realized that I didn't receive the procedure I was quoted to receive and paid for. The optometrist also explained that I had debris under both flap and striae in my left corneal flap. Dr. Ballard never informed me that debris or striae were present. There is no note about debris in my records from Dr. Ballard. At this appointment Dr. Newman also fit me with one soft contact lens and one scleral lens in an attempt to correct my vision. This did not correct my vision or resolve the multiple images, starbursts, halos, etc. He described my situation as "This isn't a catastrophe like a plane crash, its more like the landing gear broke off". He then went on to discuss the possibility of corneal cross-linking. He explained that my cornea was like a phone book with loose pages and could bend easily. He said if we were to glue all of the pages together it would be rigid and hold its shape. He mentioned that I should wait 6-8 months to pursue this as a new method for cross linking was in work and should be approved by then. It involved an eye drop that could be metered and would yield more predictable results as it could be monitored. He stated that the current process for cross linking was unpredictable and once you set it in motion it was like a falling boulder and you could not control it. He recommended that I come back for additional appointments, one in the morning and one later that day so he could collect more data as my vision was degrading rapidly throughout the day. I scheduled the additional appointments and met with him twice in one day so he could check my visual acuity in the morning and mid afternoon. I do not recall what was discussed at that time. He did mention that he has had multiple LASIK surgeries and chose not to undergo a third and therefore wears glasses. He also mentioned that he was not sure if a second surgery would correct my vision.
By mid November 2010 I had lost all hope that my vision could be corrected and felt that this was permanent. I was also very scared of having a second surgery because of the first outcome. I had become increasingly depressed and started to really consider suicide to get away from my vision as I could no longer enjoy any of the activities I participated in prior to the surgery. I could not sleep well due frequent dreams about my vision and I would often just break down at night. Depression and suicidal ideation are often side effects when poor results occur with elective refractive surgeries such as LASIK. This is rarely, if ever disclosed.
On November 19, 2010 I had the second LASIK surgery on both eyes performed again by Dr. Larry Taub at the First Eye Care Dallas facility. I had the second surgery because I still wanted to believe my vision could be corrected and everything would be OK. I knew I wasn't the first person to need a second surgery so I hoped that was the case and my vision would be good afterwards. Prior to this surgery I signed another consent form. As mentioned earlier, this consent form was different and listed pupil size and amount of required correction that would impact the predictability of the procedure as well as the outcome. Dr. Ballard and Dr. Taub failed to inform me of these risks prior to the first surgery. After reading this form I really felt tricked. Again, this information should have been disclosed prior to the first surgery.
The second surgery went nearly identical to the first. I was again given the Valium prior to talking with the surgeon (Larry Taub). The night of the second surgery was the best I had been able to see since having the first surgery. I thought my vision was finally going to be corrected. The next morning I could still see well and was very excited. On the way to my 24 hour follow up appointment I was thinking about buying a nice pair of sunglasses while at First Eye Care. While at my follow up appointment they removed the bandage contact lenses that were placed on my eyes after the surgery. My vision was immediately blurry. My vision continued to deteriorate for some time afterwards and I again had difficulty at work performing any tasks as I had after the first surgery.
Within 4-5 days of the second surgery the multiple images started to reappear and continued to get worse. The second surgery occurred a few weeks prior to a surprise birthday we were having for a good friend. Six of us had made reservations to surprise a friend of ours and his fiancé in Las Vegas for his birthday. Prior to the second surgery, I asked Jessica (LASIK Coordinator at First Eye Care Dallas) if I would be able to see well by then otherwise I was going to put off the surgery until January 2011, and she said yes and that I would be finished with my eye drops by then as well. Again, while on this trip I was miserable as I could not see well. The halos, starbursts, multiple images were again present and all of the lights from the casinos, restaurants, etc. were overwhelming. After the second surgery I continued to take the company shuttle to work nearly everyday. Unlike after the first surgery, my vision was no longer good in the mornings. Even though the second surgery reduced the distance between the multiple images, it seems to have further reduced my overall vision quality and made my vision worse than before.
Dr. Ballard referred me to Dr. Tyrone McCall at Cornea Associates of Texas. While meeting with Dr. McCall I did not feel like I was being given the full story of why I couldn't see well. He pulled out a clipboard and drew the image of an eye with a flat cornea and told me that due to the amount of flattening of my corneas I was experiencing these issues. He then went on to state that he had LASIK and loves it even though one eye is better than the other. He also said "At least you can see when you get up to go to the bathroom at night now". He showed little concern about my complaints and told me to give it time. Before our visit was finished he said "Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, they're all the same" as he handed me multiple different eye drop samples. Dr. McCall also told me not to have any more eye surgeries. He said "You can only go the well so many times, and you're to the bottom of the well". Dr. McCall sent a letter to Dr. Ballard that I was never able to get a copy of even though I had asked for it on multiple occasions.
I continued to have many follow up appointments with Dr. Ballard. During a phone call with Dr. Ballard I asked him what the corrected optical zone was for my procedure as I had suspicions that my pupils were large and this contributed to some of my issues. He stated the ablation zone was about 8mm. Ablation zones and fully corrected optical zones are not the same thing. This was another attempt by Dr. Ballard to mislead me. In my opinion, the fully corrected optical zone should be at least as large as the pupil diameter or decreased vision quality will occur. I then asked him if that was the total ablation zone or fully corrected optical zone. He stated that it was the total ablation zone and that the optical zone was only about 6.5mm. I also asked him what my pupil size was and he said 5mm. Was Dr. Ballard attempting to lie to me again? I said that can't be. Then he said he must have been looking at the wrong thing. Are you kidding me? My pupil size is listed clearly on my documents.