Refractive surgery has become a huge business all
around the world, supported by a steady advertisement on the media. It promises
to solve all problems related to vision at a reasonable cost in a fast,
clean and painless way Is it really so?
Light may be there, provided by lasers, but there are also shadows, and
Let's state a few points based on ophthalmology and optometry literature:
- People expect that after operation their eyes will be HEALED from myopia
And expect to see well, just like somebody who never needed lenses.
The reality is that only the cornea (i.e the surface of the eye) is affected
by operations, just like when you apply contact lenses, while the rest of
the eyeball remains myopic.
Therefore, at best people will be able to see like a myopic wearing contacts
(which is not as good as a normal, natural vision), but ...
- the vast majority of people after operations can see (after six months
or so) better than they could without lenses, but worse than they
could with the help of lenses.
- As a direct consequence of the operation they can develop problems
impossible to correct with lenses, like irregular astigmatism, That is irregular
shape of the cornea, because ...
- the cornea is in all kind of operations, greatly weakened. Many
problems, even highly dramatic ones, can develop out of this. Of course,
according to surgeons, ...
- every new kind of operation solves all the previous problems, but in
reality creates new ones: for example in LASIK (the last procedure
developed) there are no scars at the edge of the cut, but that means that
the superficial layer of the cornea, the stroma IS NOT FIXED to the eye
and a strong blow, like a car accident with ABS, may displace it or make
it fall from the eye!
- Night vision is generally definitely worse than before operations.
- A shortsighted operated person will develop presbyopia (old age farsightedness)
before than he or she would normally do, and will require glasses for
All the information available shows that
operations give a poorer vision than lenses. And they give a weakened
structure, a lot of pain (no wonder: nerves are burnt), and many risks.
And no deliverance from glasses...
Why people undergo them so enthusiastically, then?
At the end of last year I did my best to gather information by extensively
interviewing people (westerners) who had suffered an eye operation or intended
to undergo one in Poona, India.
What I found is:
- People inquired very little before the operation. They only
asked few questions to some friend, read some nicely illustrated (but very
reduced in information) brochure provided by surgeons, and painted for themselves
a very inadequate and optimistic picture of what would happen during and
after the operation. This was twice surprising to me, because shortsighted
people normally tend to be very, very cautious people.
- On the other hand I had a great difficulty to collect feed backs. They
didn't seem to be interested to talk about their eyes (but somebody
did, of course). Even all the call for feed backs which I made in Italy
and Germany, sending letters, E-mails etc. gave very little results.
- People declared to be generally happy of the results, even when
they were much worse than they expected (some of them had to undergo a second
and a third round).
- They strongly felt that they had been "cured", that
they had solved the problem once and for all, and could therefore forget
all about it; this even in the face of evidence of eye tensions and poor
eyesight. Nobody took the point that refractive surgery is like implanting
lenses in their eyes, lenses that cannot be taken away.
- They had discarded the possibility of training their eyes to a natural
vision as "too tiring or too long"; or they "didn't trust
their own consistency in doing exercises".
Since then I extensively researched in many directions, not only through
literature, but also seeking personal contact with people professionally
involved in operations.
- Surgeons: needless to say, they try to keep their data as secret
as possible (but some you get in Internet). What came out by interviewing
people working with them is that some of them are good at programming the
computer who run the laser, and some are not. Some get acceptable results
and some always get bad results. This is a very well kept secret, but it
- Optometrists are very busy trying to correct operations' by-products
such as irregular astigmatism They used to be very critical about operations
in the past, but now they see operations as a new source of income. Still,
from them you get a lot of interesting details in private.
- Natural vision therapists. American vision therapists tend not
to accept in their groups people who underwent operations.
It seems to me that there may be hidden emotional factors at work, so
much so that we could talk of "religious" attitudes:
- People expect that operations will change everything: they will be
cured (= saved), once and for all.
- The change seems to be happening through the grace of a superior
authority, using (almost) supernatural means: is it not fitting? They
are using light to bring light back to your eyes.
- The change is expected to be sudden, like enlightenment or redemption.
- There is fear and there is pain. When this is recognized, is accepted
as the price you have to pay in order to be rewarded: just like in a tribal
- There is no responsibility asked on your side: you only have to be
....patient. For the same reason you don't need to enquire: just
trust and surrender.
If you also see these patterns, you will recognize them as a new form
of a very old, archaic, kind of religion.
Personally I consider eye operations an unnecessary cruelty
against one's body, with very few and largely illusory advantages and many
From this point of view I advise people to inquire and collect data,
for example on the Web sites in Internet (see below). I also would advise
them to talk with many people who did them and not only with a few, who
may have some sort of vested interests in the subject (look at their eyes!).
My point is not that people should not do them , my point is that it is
better to see what operations are and what they do, avoiding wishful thinking.
Is there any positive side to operations?
Let's see. People tend to expect that through operations they will be
able to forget all about, to be unburdened of a problem with no effort and
no emotional troubles.
What is happening is exactly the opposite: there is a lot of physical
pain, a lot of shifting of visual acuity, and a lot of emotional discomfort:
your vision shifts very easily between near blindness and unbearable clarity
and you may experience exactly those painful feelings that triggered your
shortsightedness in the very beginning. And all that goes on for a rather
long time: months, at least. A Purgatory...
Now this, painful as it may be, IS an opportunity for awareness and healing.
In other terms: is an opportunity to become responsible for your eyes and
the way you use them. But you can also close the eyes to reality...
Many holistic vision therapists simply refuse to accept operated people
in their groups. I can understand their point: operated people may be difficult
cases, both on a physical and a psychological level. I can see their point.
The approach of Buena Vista is different. It needs courage, the courage
of seeing oneself. Or, you may say, the choice to be aware: then operations
can be turned into a beautiful opportunity, and we can help in seeing patterns,
and hidden drives that prevent seeing clearly
In the same process, people can also correct or prevent negative by-
products of operations, such as poor night vision, loss of coordination
between the eyes, premature presbyopia, and the likes.
A good site, is now becoming the most importance reference point for post-op
- Is exactly what it says in its name: a report on what can, and did
in facts go wrong in an impressive amount of lasik operations.
References. From Medline, some important articles
There is an interesting article from BBC : people
who regained 20/20 through laser are NOT any more accepted in German police,
due to poor night vision
A personal report on PRK: www.geocities.com/badprklaser
References Working with people's eyes article from
BBC The birth of Buena Vista Summer holidays in Italy English