As seen on TED

In 1948, Spanish ophthalmologist Jose Ignacio Barraquer Moner was fed up with relying on external aids to see well.

He wanted a solution for blurry vision that would fix the eye itself, without the need of wearing glasses. The answer he came up with was something called “keratomileusis”, a surgical technique that alters vision by reshaping the cornea.

And the rest is history. Today, we know this procedure as LASIK, a treatment for everything from shortsightedness and longsightedness to astigmatism and presbyopia.

Over sixty years since its conception, LASIK has improved the vision of millions of people and freed them from glasses and contact lenses. It has grown so popular it’s become one of the most commonly performed elective procedures worldwide, with a booming international industry of clinics, surgeons, and researchers.

As an early pioneer in the industry, Jose Ignacio Barraquer Moner paved the way for the wide array of advancements that Laser Eye Surgery has undergone. He also inspired the new generation of eye surgeons who would bring about these improvements and take the treatment to new heights.

One of these eye surgeons is Professor Dan Reinstein. For most of his professional life, Prof Reinstein has dedicated himself solely to Laser Eye Surgery. He has had a huge influence on the development of the industry, creating new treatments, designed new lasers, and introducing new charitable initiatives.

In particular, Prof Reinstein plays a big role in the awareness and education of Laser Eye Surgery, in the mission of making the treatment and good vision accessible to more and more people who are in need of it around the world.

These are just a few of the reasons why Prof Reinstein was selected as the expert by TED to do their new education piece. The video piece, which is now available to view on, combines expert knowledge with clever visuals to explain how laser eye treatments work.

Being chosen by TED is a privilege and a sign of recognition for all Prof Reinstein’s work and contributions to the field of vision correction surgery. But it’s also a pivotal moment in looking at how far the treatment has come, evolving from a scary and somewhat brutal procedure to a highly refined and technologically advanced treatment.

So before we get into the piece, who is this modern-day pioneer who is changing the way people see today?

About Professor Dan Reinstein

Initially graduating from Cambridge University, Prof Reinstein is an expert in eye surgery as well as a lifelong student who holds too many qualifications and titles to mention.

We’ll give it a go, though. 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 equally certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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 his 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 panelist at over 50 scientific international meeting panels

Today, Prof Reinstein runs London Vision Clinic on Harley Street, London. Founded in 2002, his aim was to create an independent clinic where exceptional surgical skill, world-class research, unrivalled technology, and high-quality patient care and service were combined under one roof. London Vision Clinic is now known as one of — if not the — leading laser eye surgery clinic in the world.

When he’s not running a business, looking after his family, or playing the sax, among other things, Prof Reinstein often appears in the media and at events as the expert on all things Laser Eye Surgery. He’s been featured in The Times and The Sunday Times Magazine, appeared as an interviewee on Sky News, BBC Breakfast, and BBC Radio 4, and as the laser eye specialist for 10 Years Younger and Extreme Makeover UK.

The new TED Education Piece

So, now you know more about the man, how does Laser Eye Surgery actually work? Well, this is exactly what the new education piece, narrated by Addison Anderson, is designed to show you.

The video takes viewers from its roots as a procedure that involved slicing off the front of a patient’s cornea and dunking it in liquid nitrogen, right up until SMILE, a cutting-edge technique that enables surgeons to sculpt the cornea through key-hole sized incisions.

The TED video is a great way to get a better idea about how the procedure works as well as its evolution over time. It also ends by giving you a glimpse into the future where Barraquer’s and Dan’s vision of a world without glasses may finally become a reality.

You can watch the video here on TED’s education channel. TED-Ed features the words and ideas of 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 400,000 views.