According to a story from ctvnews.ca, Paul Fitzpatrick of Ontario has been enduring severe eye pain following laser eye surgery for over twenty years before he committed suicide. The man’s family say that the severe pain was the primary reason for his decision to take his own life. While Paul was never officially diagnosed, his mother Christine, as well as much of his family, suspect that he had corneal neuralgia, a rare complication that can cause long term chronic pain.
Neuralgia is a form of chronic nerve pain that is often severe. It can appear in a number of different areas of the body, but typically affects the head, neck, and face. The condition is often the result of prior damage to the central or peripheral nervous system. Neuralgia can be somewhat difficult to diagnose. The primary symptom is overwhelming, severe pain. The pain has been described as aching, crushing, burning, and stabbing. The pain can often worsen with even minor activity, such as chewing or talking. Even minor sensations such as a cool breeze can exacerbate symptoms. Many conventional pain treatments have little effect on neuralgia; common treatments include antidepressants, anti-convulsants, surgery, and marijuana. Women are more often affected than men. To learn more about neuralgia, click here.
An Unlikely Disaster
Corneal neuralgia has been linked to suicide and debilitating pain. Paul, who had worn glasses from a young age, opted for photoreactive keratectomy (PRK), the first form of laser eye surgery, in 1996. While most people who undergo this operation and other types of laser eye surgery complete the procedure without issue, Paul was one of the unfortunate ones; the resulting pain from corneal neuralgia essentially ruined his life.
He began to suffer dry eyes and migraines not long after the operation. He attempted to seek treatment for his emerging problems, including additional PRK operations, which may have simply worsened his condition. The pain, which Paul described as “the needles in his eyes,” according to his brother Kevin, eventually kept him from opening his eyes at all.
With his life consisting of constant suffering, Paul, tragically felt he had no way out. Paul was the first recorded case of suicide linked to eye surgery in Canada.