Ontario father-of-two Paul Fitzpatrick, 56, took his own life in October
A Canadian man has taken his own life after suffering intolerable pain in his eyes for 20 years following a laser eye surgery.
Paul Fitzpatrick, 56, underwent a laser PRK procedure in 1996 that involved removing the thin, top layer of the eye and reshaping corneal tissue to sharpen vision – a predecessor of the popular Lasik eye surgery.
Since then, the father-of-two suffered headaches and described feeling needles in his eyes as well as an unbearable dry and burning sensation.
He left a suicide note when he took his life in October, which described the pain he felt that pushed him to death.
‘I cannot experience any type of pleasure anymore,’ Paul wrote. ‘Just the pain of burning eyes inside my head and throughout myself… Since 1996 Pain, pain and more pain, please forgive me for not being strong enough to cope. The past few months have been unbearable.’
His parents Gene and Christine Fitzpatrick, of Ontario, spoke to CTV about their son’s condition.
‘It ruined his life, and it also left a lot of people around him suffering,’ Gene said.
In 1996 he underwent laser eye surgery that left him with painful burning eyes that he said felt like needles for 20 years. He would often close his eyes to escape the pain
‘He had always worn glasses, maybe since he was about 12 and he just thought it would be great not to have them,’ Christine said. ‘He researched it and he made sure that he was going to the best place. He felt the PRK was safer because there was less cornea used.’
PKR, or photorefractive keratectomy, was the first form of laser eye surgery and typically safe.
However, Paul’s family said he began suffering from migraines and dry eyes shortly after his surgery.
Canadian doctors were unable to diagnose what was causing his pain, so the self-made-millionaire traveled to Europe and the US to find a specialist who could help.
He began treatments and underwent more surgeries which only made the pain worse.
Paul’s family said in the months leading up to his death, the pain was so unbearable he would keep his eyes closed for most of the time, walking with a cane and planned to move in with his parents.
His family believe he suffered from a rare condition known as corneal neuralgia
In his suicide note he wrote: ‘Just the pain of burning eyes inside my head and throughout myself. Pain, pain and more pain’
‘We didn’t know what to do for him,’ his mother told CTV. ‘We would recommend pain killers and he would take some. He wasn’t one to take pain killers much, but when they wore off he said the pain was worse so he’d keep his eyes closed most of the time.’
Now his family believe he suffered from a rare, yet severe condition known as corneal neuralgia.
Corneal neuralgia can cause nerve damage to the eye causing excruciating pain.
‘Had he been aware (of his condition)…he definitely would not have continued with subsequent surgeries,’ his brother Kevin Fitzpatrick said.
Paul’s case is the first-known suicide from laser eye surgery in Canada, according to CTV.
Paul’s case is the first-known suicide from laser eye surgery in Canada