A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in South Carolina accuses eye clinics across the country of performing surgeries on patients with pre-existing conditions that should have excluded them as candidates, causing those patients to suffer post-operative problems.
Practitioners in 30 TLC LASIK Centers nationwide performed Lasik procedures on patients with conditions like keratoconus, a progressive thinning and curvature of the cornea, according to documents filed in federal court in Greenville. Performing the corrective surgery on someone with the disorder puts the patient at risk for problems like progressive vision loss, but ineligible candidates can easily be weeded out in pre-surgery screening, according to the lawsuit.
After his Lasik surgery, Beaufort County resident John Hollman, 36, developed ectasia, or vision loss resulting from inner eye pressure pushing out against a thinned corneal wall. This condition requires expensive treatments and, in severe cases, is only cured by a corneal transplant, Hollman's attorneys argue.
To keep up with escalating customer demand in the early 2000s, TLC LASIK Centers skimped on pre-surgical consultations and performed the procedure on patients who should never have been considered, the lawsuit says.
TLC Vision, TLC LASIK Centers' St. Louis-based parent company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December. Company spokesman Jim Hyland declined Wednesday to comment on the lawsuit and said TLC Vision expected to emerge from bankruptcy in May.