Family of Meteorologist Who Died by Suicide After Eye Surgery Complications Speaks Out
Jessica Starr, a popular Detroit meteorologist, died by suicide eight weeks after undergoing corrective laser eye surgery
In an interview with ABC News’ Paula Faris that aired Wednesday on Good Morning America, Starr’s family said they believe her struggles with complications from corrective eye surgery in October left her depressed, ultimately leading to take her own life eight weeks later. She was 35.
Starr’s mother Carol Starr and husband Dan Rose both said they believe her death is directly related to the surgery.
“There was nothing else that we can attribute it to,” Carol said.
“She really knew something was not right within a matter of days,” Rose added. “She started to complain of incredibly dry eyes. She had almost no night vision. She had starbursts that she was seeing during the day and at night.”
They also said they noticed a change in her demeanor and her appearance.
“She lost like, 25-26 lbs,” said Carol. “I kept saying, ‘Are you eating? Are you okay?’ She kept saying, ‘I’m not eating and I’m not sleeping, Mom. This is worrying me. I don’t think it’s going to get better.'”
Starr is also survived by her two children with Rose, who said his wife “started to withdraw” as she struggled with complications from the procedure.
“I was going to dinner by myself with the kids,” he said. “I was taking the kids to the movies by myself.”
Though initially reported to have undergone Lasik eye surgery, according to ABC News, Starr actually underwent small incision lenticule extraction, or SMILE. In it, a laser makes a very small opening on the eye to remove a layer of tissue within the cornea to change its shape and correct nearsightedness. It is considered to be less invasive than Lasik.
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According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, studies show the procedure is safe and effective and that complications are very rare. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery told ABC News in a statement that “clinical data on SMILE shows sight compromising complications are extremely rare, at less than one percent.”
Zeiss, the maker of the laser used for SMILE, did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Starr’s family said she contacted her surgeon and multiple eye doctors to get their opinions after the surgery. She also reached out to a therapist for help.
Starr chronicled her recovery on her Facebook page, revealing in a Nov. 13 video that she was “struggling a little bit” after taking four weeks off post-surgery. Asking viewers for tips and advice, she reported dimming vision and said she was “trying to stay strong.”
In one of her many video diaries, Starr expressed regret for having undergone the procedure.
“I’m really mad at myself for doing this,” she said. “I don’t know why. I was fine in contacts. Glasses weren’t that big of a deal. It was fine.”
Starr’s death was announced on-air by her station on Dec. 13.
“Last night we were informed of the heartbreaking news that our friend and colleague, meteorologist Jessica Starr took her life,” they said. “All of us here at Fox 2 are in deep shock and cannot believe that such a wonderful, bright and intelligent individual will no longer be with us. Her family and friends will be in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days as we all deal with our grief.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.