It has been a long, successful 15 years since Dr. DavOD Hartzok and I opened the Vision Surgery Rehab Network nonprofit, dedicated to facilitating rehab options for patients with complications after corneal refractive surgery—RK, LASIK, LASEK, PRK, SMILE, etc. But it didn't all start with us.
- Since 2004, the Vision Surgery Rehab Network has stood firmly on the broad shoulders of the Surgical Eyes Foundation, established by Ron Link in 1999. Ron created a successful (and controversial) patient-founded, patient-centric organization for the purpose of empowering past, present and future patients living with the complications of refractive surgery. The original SE website essentially served four functions:
- First (and perhaps foremost), it offered patients suffering the ill-effects of refractive surgery a voice and a measure of solace to learn that they were not alone, that there were others struggling with similar refractive surgery complications.
- Second, the SE website served as a reference for a profusion of patient comments, medical articles and hoped-for resolutions to the various visual and physical eye problems of refractive surgery.
- Third, it offered patients an opportunity to find a doctor willing to help resolve their particular problems.
- And fourth, it offered patients an opportunity to express their extreme anger and frustration towards the refractive surgery industry and its providers.
The latter two offerings proved, however, to be at odds with each other. How could a site offering to help patients find a doctor willing to help them (often a surgical provider) also serve as a site that constantly and harshly admonished the entire refractive surgery industry and the very providers whose help we needed?
The resolution of this conflict was resolved by the creation in November 2004 of the nonprofit Vision Surgery Rehab Network, dedicated to helping patients find relief from their visual and physical complications. The new name was necessary to break from the controversy surrounding SE. Subsequently, many frequent commenters on our bulletin board were angered that VSRN had destroyed their personal platform in their crusade to shut down the industry. VSRN was not an attempt to oust those commenters, but merely the acknowledgement that bashing the industry whose help we needed was not compatible with receiving that help.
VSRN’s continued presence on the Internet over the past fifteen years has enabled us to not to just help patients find the help they deserve, but also to serve as a perpetual warning to those planning to have refractive surgery, which for all of the refinements and advancements over the years, still has the potential to irreparably harm them. As an elective procedure, refractive surgery is much like plastic surgery; the outcome is not always as desirable as the patient anticipated and a successful resolution of an undesirable outcome is not always achievable.
Dr. DavOD Hartzok, as executive director and co-founder, and I, as president and co-founder of VSRN, would like to thank the many patients and doctors who have helped us achieve our desire to resolve patient issues. As a fellow casualty, I want to give special thanks to Dr. Hartzok, a practicing optometrist and dedicated clinician, for serving first SE, later VSRN and the refractive surgery complications community with his deep commitment and passion required to help our patients for what has been a successful and busy 19 years.
It is with our best wishes for all refractive surgery casualties that we announce the dissolution of the Vision Surgery Rehab Network as of November 1, 2019.