Laser Vision Institute Files For Bankruptcy

Laser Vision Institute’s (“LVI”) corporate parent, Vision Group Holdings, filed for bankruptcy on Friday, May 30, 2020. In its press release, it claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic put it out of business. Vision Group Holdings also owns TLC Laser Eye Centers (“TLC”), which together with LVI, are two of the largest LASIK surgery providers in the United States. Notably, this is TLC’s second bankruptcy.

That raises the question is whether the bankruptcy is caused by the pandemic and depression level unemployment? Or, are LVI’s and TLC’s high-volume assembly line LASIK business models, that turned patient corneas into commodities, fundamentally flawed? I once referred to TLC as the McDonald’s of LASIK. Upon reflection, that wasn’t fair to McDonald’s.

LVI’s bankruptcy filing reveals that its biggest creditor is not its eye doctors, but rather Alcon, the laser manufacturer, which it owes more than $6 million. It concedes that long before the pandemic it was struggling financially for three other reasons. First, it had purchased numerous ophthalmology practices that it “struggled to successfully integrate” profitably. Second, it bungled its dubious marketing strategy with Groupon. Imagine the “Deal of the Day,” sale on LASIK! Third, it states that it suffered an “industry-wide downturn” in 2019 because of the LASIK suicide of a popular meteorologist in Detroit, Jessica Starr. Tragic as Ms. Starr’s death was, LASIK related suicides are not new. I had spoken to the FDA advisory panel about them more than a decade earlier in 2008.

Clearly, COVID-19 did not crush LVI and TLC. They collapsed by the weight of their own misguided business models.

LVI offered a Lifetime Assurance Plan or guarantee. Now that hucksterish “lifetime guarantee” is only as long as the short lifetime of its business.

Just because uninformed investors may jump in to bail out LVI and TLC (for the third time), does not mean that you should as a patient?  The incentives are in the wrong place. How much care and attention would you expect from a LASIK mercenary who is paid only a small fraction of your surgical fee? If you ever return to LVI, ask the surgeon what percentage of your fee actually goes to him or her. You may be surprised. Avoid their high-volume business model that places patient profit over patient safety. Otherwise, you may sadly learn that LVI does not stand for LASIK Vision Institute, but rather Lost Vision Institute.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a doctor, you should promptly contact an attorney with experience in medical malpractice.  The Law Office of Todd J. Krouner, P.C. has a proven track record of helping patients injured by LASIK (and other forms of medical malpractice) all over the country.  To determine if you have a strong case, contact us for a free consultation at (914) 238-5800.