Husband of Meteorologist Jessica Starr Says Eye Surgery Complications Triggered Her Suicide

September 12, 2018

The husband of Detroit meteorologist Jessica Starr, who took her own life last December, believes her struggle with complications from corrective eye surgery ultimately led to her suicide.

In October, eight weeks before her death, Starr, 35, underwent small-incision tonsil removal, or SMILE, a procedure considered less invasive than Lasik that uses a laser to make a very small incision in the eye to remove a layer of tissue inside the cornea that can change its shape and correct nearsightedness.

“If someone would have told me or her family and said she was capable of hurting herself, I wouldn’t have believed you,” her husband, Dan Ross, told “Today” in an interview published last Saturday.” There’s no doubt in my mind that something related to this proceeding triggered all of this.”

While the mother of two was told the surgery would only take about five days to recover, her husband said, “Within three or four days of the procedure, she started saying things like, ‘I think something’s wrong. I don’t feel right. ”

As Starr continues to work on her recovery, Rose said she experienced extreme light sensitivity and had to apply eye drops every five minutes to restore her vision.

“She’s a very strong person,” Ross told Today, adding that she was very emotional after returning to her Fox 2 News job on Nov. 13.

“She came home at the end of the first day and fell into my arms and just started crying,” he said.

As her difficulties continued, Ross said Starr went to five different eye doctors, all of whom said she just needed more time to recover. Just days before her death, she also saw a cornea specialist who told her the same thing.

“I think the surgery put her in such a dark space,” Rose said, detailing the notebook Starr kept at the time.” She wrote, “Because of the loss of my vision, I can’t be a mother, a wife, or work. I’ve lost every aspect of my life.”

Starr documented her recovery on her Facebook page, and she also said in one of her video diaries that she regretted having the surgery.

“I’m really mad at myself for doing this,” she said.” I don’t know why. I’m fine with contact lenses. Glasses aren’t a big deal. It’s fine.”

Ross went on to tell Today that while he doesn’t “want to shut down” the SMILE procedure, he wants people to understand all the risks associated with it.

“People need to do their homework, they need to feel comfortable with the surgeon, and I want to see a change in the follow-up care for this procedure,” he said.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, studies have shown that the procedure is safe and effective, and complications are rare. The American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery told ABC News in a statement, “Clinical data from SMILE shows that complications affecting vision are extremely rare, less than 1 percent.”

Starr’s death was announced live on air by her television station on Dec. 13.

“Last night, we were told the heartbreaking news that our friend and colleague, meteorologist Jessica Starr, took her life,” they said.” All of us at Fox 2 are deeply shocked and can’t believe that such a wonderful, bright and intelligent person will no longer be with us. Her family and friends will be in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days as we all process our grief.”