Regarding "A New Vision for Midlife?" [Health, Oct. 5]: I am not surprised to learn of the writer's experience with Lasik eye surgery, but what does surprise me is that an apparently well-educated person ignored warning signs and didn't protect herself.

Maggie Fox was examined by an optometrist during her initial consultation. Optometrists are not surgeons. This is the first instance where she should have done some research and walked away.

She continued in the process toward surgery and didn't meet her surgeon until just before the procedure. She even admitted to the feeling of being in an assembly-line atmosphere.

Why do intelligent people do this to themselves? Ms. Fox should have gotten up and said she did not feel comfortable with the atmosphere. For heaven's sake, she paid $5,000; at the very least, they should have made her comfortable and taken time to explain the procedure to help her relax.

Thanks to new technologies, Lasik has become safer, but no technology can substitute for health care consumers who don't speak up when they have that gut-wrenching feeling that something just isn't right.

Ms. Fox needed not a Valium but a surgeon and staff members who would treat her like a patient and not a number. The sudden pressure, vision fading out -- these are common experiences of the Lasik procedure that should have been explained before surgery.

I hope your readers are not scared off by this experience but rather learn what to look for in selecting a surgeon.

PAUL B. ROUSSEAU

Clinical Director

Liberty Laser Eye Center

Vienna