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Product: Health & Beauty
Advertiser: Laser Vision Eye Clinic
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 6th Edition: 1.6(c), 2.9, 2.22, 2.24
Under the Frequently Asked Questions section on the advertisers’ website one of the questions posed was:
“Is laser vision correction permanent?
Yes. 5 year follow-up studies indicate that after the healing process is complete your eyesight remains stable.”
The complainant said she had unilateral Laski eye surgery performed in 2007.
The complainant said she was happy with the results of the surgery for about five years and then her distance vision gradually began to deteriorate. She considered that it was misleading for the advertisers to advertise their procedures as being ‘permanent’ if this was not the case.
The advertisers said that it would be inappropriate for them to discuss a patient’s medical details without their consent and that they were finding it difficult to address the precise details of the complaint. They said, however, that if the complainant had laser eye surgery at their clinic they would have been informed in great detail of the risks and benefits attached to having their surgery. They said that, while laser treatment involved a permanent change to the cornea (removal of corneal tissue by photoablation and reshaping), a patient’s refraction can change through life for various reasons, including age and in a small percentage of cases after refractive surgery regression may occur.
The advertisers asked the Executive to explain exactly what they wished them to address.
The Executive asked the advertisers to address the claim on their website in relation to the permanency of the correction, as this was the issue raised by the complainant.
In response the advertisers said that the information provided on their website was accurate and true. They said Excimer laser treatment for refractive errors was permanent and the removal of corneal tissue by this type of laser was also permanent. They said, however, that the complainant may not have fully understood the difference between the permanent change to the cornea and their own subjective vision and perhaps this is where the confusion arose.
The Executive reverted to the advertisers to inform them that they had not responded to the statement made by them on their website in relation to the permanency of the procedure. No further correspondence was received from the advertisers in the matter.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted the advertisers’ explanation that while laser treatment involved a permanent change to the cornea, a patient’s refraction could change for various reasons. The Committee also noted however that in response to the question “is Laser vision correction permanent?” the answer was “Yes” and went on to say that studies indicated that ‘eyesight remained stable’. They therefore considered that most consumers would consider the claim in relation to permanency to mean that should they undergo laser vision correction procedures, their eyesight would remain the same and they would not need to undergo the process again.
The Committee concluded, therefore, that the advertising was in breach of Sections 2.9, 2.22 and 2.24 of the Code.
The advertisement should not be used in its current format again.