Did Lt. Col. Scott Barnes, M.D. deliberately deceive the public about LASIK risks?

In response to widespread reports of problems with LASIK eye surgery, the FDA called a Special Hearing of the Ophthalmic Devices Panel on April 25, 2008.

At the hearing, Lt. Col. Scott Barnes, MD, an Army eye surgeon made an impassioned plea on behalf of soldiers at Fort Bragg in North Carolina: "Please don't take [LASIK] away from us." However, Lt. Col. Scott Barnes, MD coauthored an article in the July, 2008 issue of Current Opinion in Ophthalmology,1 which apparently contradicts his FDA testimony:

"At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the Army surgeons have moved to 100% surface ablation in the past 2 years; the five known traumatic flap dislocations (out of 2500 procedures) due to 'typical' soldier activities contributed to this change but not as much as an analysis of the visual outcomes."

Since manuscripts typically require months in preparation and the editorial process before they appear in print, and it is unlikely that the five traumatic flap dislocations occurred between the FDA hearing and the date the paper was submitted for publication, we can assume that Lt. Col. Scott Barnes was already aware of the potential for traumatic flap dislocation and poorer visual outcomes with LASIK eye surgery when he testified.

Why is it, then, that Barnes failed to raise concerns about safety and efficacy of LASIK at the April 25th hearing? Did Army eye surgeon Scott Barnes intentionally mislead the FDA and the public during his testimony to the FDA?

Listen to testimony of Lt. Col. Scott Barnes and decide for yourself if this officer in uniform speaking as a representative of the U.S. military is deliberately deceiving the public. You will notice that while Dr. Barnes spoke about "refractive surgery", his testimony in the context of a special hearing on LASIK implied that his arguments were in support of the LASIK procedure:

Video of testimony of Lt. Col. Scott Barnes, M.D. at FDA hearing on LASIK


1. Trattler WB, Barnes SD. Current trends in advanced surface ablation. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2008 Jul;19(4):330-4.