I have vivid memories, from my school-age days, of playing a game that we called Whisper Down the Alley. During the game, one person would think of a sentence and whisper it to the next person in line. That person would then whisper it to the following person in line, and so forth, until the last person in line received the message and shared what he or she had heard with everyone.
Each and every time we played, the sentence shared out loud was different from the one that was originally whispered. Back then, we would undoubtedly giggle at the discrepancy between the two sentences and crack some wise joke about who heard it wrong and where the mistakes had originated.
Several months ago, when a group of my close friends got together for a long weekend, we played a similar game in which one person wrote a sentence on a piece of paper and shared it with the person closest to him or her. That person then hid the sentence and, in its place, drew a picture depicting the sentence. The piece of paper was passed to the next person, who then hid the picture and wrote a sentence describing the scene. This pattern was repeated until it reached the last person, who then either read the last sentence out loud or interpreted the last picture drawn in the form of a sentence.
Once again, just as I had experienced in childhood, the last sentence was always different from the first. And, just as after Whisper Down the Alley, we all giggled at the divergence in the message. This time, however, we had the physical proof of where the inaccuracies had originated.
It appears as if something similar may be happening with LASIK. Today, even though there is proof of a 10-year trend of continual improvements in the safety and visual acuity results of LASIK,1 the market is flat and the reputation of the procedure seems to be eroding. According to Kerry D. Solomon, MD, part of the problem is that surgeons continue to refer to old LASIK data—data that they probably heard years before and have continued to whisper down the alley. Of course other factors are in play, including the economy; the availability of alternative procedures that, in some instances, are better suited for some patients; and the aging of the population.
This cover focus not only provides surgeons with the latest data on LASIK results but also explores the worldwide volume of procedures being performed today and debates whether rebranding LASIK would boost its reputation back to previous levels. It is also our hope that the articles in the cover focus will invigorate you to try to revive the refractive surgery market. LASIK volumes may never be what they were during the LASIK boom, but there is still hope that the message that surgeons are whispering (or shouting) is the message that consumers will hear.
—Laura Straub, Editor-in-Chief
1. Yuen KH, Chan WK, Kho J, et al. A 10-year prospective audit of LASIK outcomes for myopia in 37,932 eyes at a single institution in Asia. Ophthalmology. 2010;117(6):1236-1244.