Laser Eye Surgery Explained: As Seen on TED

Laser Eye Surgery is undeniably a modern medical procedure that involves high-spec technology and tools; however, you might be surprised to learn that the procedure as we know it today actually roots back to 1948 when Spanish ophthalmologist José Ignacio Barraquer Moner resolved to find a better alternative to external visual aids.

Barraquer Moner believed that he could solve visual errors within the eye itself, allowing those with blurry vision to ditch the glasses for good – and he was right.

The procedure he came up with became known as “keratomileusis”, derived from the Greek words “carving” and “cornea”. The basis of Barraquer Moner’s procedure was to change the shape of the cornea to allow light to enter the eye more effectively. While this might sound a bit grizzly, it remains the basis for Laser Eye Surgery to this day.

Today, we know this procedure as LASEK. Thankfully, advances in technology and our understanding of the eye mean that having refractive surgery is not the daunting prospect it once was.

Thanks to this early innovation, millions of people around the world have been freed from glasses and contact lenses. In fact, Laser Eye Surgery has evolved to become one of the most commonly performed elective procedures throughout the world.

Laser Eye Surgery techniques like LASIK, PRK/LASEK, and ReLEx SMILE can now be used as a treatment for visual errors including short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism.

Modern Development of Laser Eye Surgery

The innovation of José Ignacio Barraquer Moner not only brought clear vision to millions but also inspired generations of eye surgeons who have continued to develop and advance his initial procedure.

One such surgeon is our very own Professor Dan Reinstein. For most of his professional life, Prof Reinstein has dedicated his expertise solely to Laser Eye Surgery. Today, he is considered one of the most experienced and knowledgeable Laser Eye surgeons in the world and has had a huge influence on the continued development of the industry.

This has involved creating new treatments designing new technology and introducing charitable initiatives. Professor Reinstein has also published 187 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Professor Reinstein is also dedicated to raising awareness and improving education around Laser Eye Surgery. This is all part of the mission to make the benefits of Laser Eye Surgery more accessible to more people around the world. This reputation led TED to approach Prof Reinstein to be their featured expert in their new educational video.

TED’s recognition of Professor Dan Reinstein’s contribution to the world of Laser Eye Surgery is a privilege and honour to all of us here at London Vision Clinic. Furthermore, it also gives us the opportunity to appreciate just how far the treatment has come. What started out as a scary and somewhat grizzly procedure has now become an incredibly refined and advanced treatment.

Professor Reinstein’s contribution to Laser Eye Surgery research has meant that clearer vision can now be achieved in just a matter of minutes. So, before we get into the video itself, let’s learn a little more about this modern-day pioneer.

About Professor Dan Reinstein

Professor Dan Reinstein is a world-renowned Laser Eye Surgeon who initially graduated from Cambridge University. Since then, he has attained too many qualifications and titles to mention, but we will give it a go anyway:

Over his twenty-five-year career, he has accumulated many postgraduate qualifications including an MD, MA(Cantab), FRCSC, DABO, FRCOphth, FEBO, CertLRS, PGDip, and CRS. He’s also a GMC registered specialist in ophthalmology in the United Kingdom and is equally certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Nonetheless, Prof Reinstein’s primary passion is refractive surgery, leading him to dedicate the majority of his professional life to the advancement of the industry.

His specialist training includes a Research Fellowship in Ophthalmic Epidemiology (Institute of Ophthalmology, London), a Fellowship in Ophthalmology (The Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York) and a Refractive Surgical Fellowship under laser eye surgeons Zaldivar, Arbelaez, Chacon, and Barraquer.

A few highlights and stats from Professor Reinstein’s 25-year career include:

  • Written or contributed 32 book chapters and published proceedings
  • Published or presented 227 scientific papers or abstracts
  • 415 lectures at professional meetings over five continents
  • Published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals
  • Written 135 articles for the ophthalmic press
  • Moderator or panellist at over 50 scientific international meeting panels

As you can imagine, we are excessively proud to have Professor Reinstein as the Medical Director at London Vision Clinic. Founded himself in 2002, his aim was to create an independent clinic that pioneered exceptional surgical skills, world-class research, state-of-the-art technology, and high-quality patient care.

Since then, London Vision Clinic has become known as one of – if not the – leading Laser Eye Surgery clinics in the world.

When Prof Reinstein is not busy running a business, playing the saxophone, or spending time with his family, he also appears in the media as an expert on all things Laser Eye Surgery. From features in The Times and The Sunday Times Magazine to interviews on Sky News, BBC Breakfast, and BBC Radio 4, and even as the Laser Eye Specialist for 10 Years Younger and Extreme Makeover UK, Professor Reinstein really has done it all.

The new TED Education Piece

So, how does Laser Eye Surgery actually work? Well, that is the exact question that TED’s latest video on the topic addresses. The piece, narrated by Addison Anderson, has been designed to explain Laser Eye Surgery theory in an effective and engaging way. And it does just that.

At the beginning of the video, we learn about the roots of the procedure. From the initial technique of slicing off the cornea and dipping it in liquid nitrogen in preparation for reshaping, we go right through the development of ReLEx SMILE – an innovative new procedure that is significantly less invasive than traditional techniques.

The video ends on an optimistic note, reflecting on a future where Barraquer’s and Dan’s vision of a world without glasses could be a reality.

You can watch the video here on TED’s education channel. TED-Ed features the words and ideas of innovators and educators brought to life by professional animators and narrators. This video, titled ‘How does laser eye surgery work?’, was published in November 2019 and has already proven to be a hit with nearly six million views.

If you would like to learn more about Laser Eye surgery, Book a Consultation or get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators today.