Bonnie Tyler’s Eye Opening Experience: “How I Was Saved From A Total Eclipse Of My Sight”
By Bonnie Estridge
She was a singing legend with a string of hits to her name. What no one knew was that Bonnie Tyler had such poor eyesight she couldn’t even read her lyrics, or put on her stage make-up without using a magnifying glass. “A friend suggested I see Professor Dan Reinstein. I went to his London clinic for four hours of tests to see if there was a reason I shouldn’t have the surgery – if I’d had underlying eye disease, for example. I was given the all-clear and was operated on the following morning.”
Her severe long-sightedness meant that the 57-year-old, best known for her No1 hit Total Eclipse of the Heart, suffered both professionally and personally.
‘For the past ten years or so, seeing anything close-up was so difficult that it became a real issue in my life,’ Bonnie says.
‘Holding a menu at arm’s length, peering at anything that required reading, made me feel so old,’ she says.
‘I lost dozens of pairs of expensive glasses because I’d put them down and then not be able to find them again.’
Bonnie’s poor vision even began to have a detrimental effect on her work.
‘When I was in the recording studio I needed to concentrate on what my voice was doing, which is rather difficult if you can’t actually see what you are supposed to be singing,’ she says.
The medical term for long-sightedness is hyperopia, which is when the eyeball is too short in length or the cornea is too flat. As a result, objects that are close by appear fuzzy or blurred.
While surgical treatment for shortsightedness – myopia – has been available for some years, when Bonnie tried to discover if there was a similar procedure that might benefit her, she found nothing.
Bonnie is still touring all over the world from her home in Portugal where she lives with her property developer husband Robert Sullivan. But it wasn’t until she was in Britain last year on tour that she learned about the procedure that would free her from, as she puts it, ‘peering at everything like an old lady’.
“A friend suggested I see Professor Dan Reinstein. I went to his London clinic for four hours of tests to see if there was a reason I shouldn’t have the surgery – if I’d had underlying eye disease, for example. I was given the all-clear and was operated on the following morning.”
Professor Reinstein developed the procedure PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision in 2004, which was implemented by Carl Zeiss in 2009, the German manufacturers of optical systems,
This system was developed by Professor Reinstein in 2004 and later implemented by Carl Zeiss Meditec in their laser 2009.
It aims to correct eyesight for those typically over 45 years of age.
‘Bonnie had two conditions that were corrected by Laser Eye Surgery. She was long-sighted but she also had astigmatism – where the cornea is shaped like a rugby ball rather than a football as it should be,’ says Dr Reinstein.
She also has presbyopia which is part of the ageing process and literally means ‘old sight’.
With presbyopia, the ability to focus on close objects gradually decreases over a number of years, owing to the internal lens of the eye losing the ability to change shape in order to shift the focus of the eye from distance to near.
Reading glasses helped, and Bonnie started to need them about ten years before normal-sighted people would.
The Blended Vision procedure takes a few minutes for each eye. Anaesthetic drops are used to numb the eye.
A laser then creates tiny perforations along the surface of the cornea and the surgeon uses these perforations to separate the micro-thin flap from the cornea.
A second laser is then used to reshape the corneal tissue. The flap is replaced into its original position, now taking the new shape of the cornea and focusing the eye.
‘The flap sticks to the corneal surface and after two to three hours is completely healed,’ says Dr Reinstein.
‘The patient may feel slight discomfort, similar to having worn contact lenses for too long, for a couple of hours before this settles and then the eye feels normal.
‘Changes in the cornea will be permanent, but presbyopia progresses inside the eye over the decades as we get older. The great thing is that a simple adjustment can be made by further laser surgery to adjust for any later changes in the eye,’ he says.
Bonnie recalls feeling some pressure on the eyes during the procedure, ‘but nothing else, and definitely no pain’.
And she was delighted with the results: ‘Afterwards the clock face in the surgery was perfectly clear; I could even see the second hand going round – just 20 minutes after the start of surgery there was no blurring, nothing. I could see everything close-up and I have been able to do so ever since.’
Dr Reinsten says all Laser Eye Surgery is permanent, ‘but as we age, we may need a minor top-up every ten years’.
In a study presented at the 2008 American Academy of Ophthalmology in Atlanta, he showed that of 336 consecutive patients treated, 96 per cent could see 20/20 or better at distance and 100 per cent were able to read newsprint without glasses.
‘How many times one can be treated depends on the prescription level, the thickness of the cornea and the equipment being used,’ he says, ‘but most patients can be treated and adjusted sufficiently during their lifetimes to keep them out of glasses.
‘There are other forms of treatment for presbyopia. The most common in the UK is the implantation of an artificial lens into the eye but this carries a slightly higher risk than Laser Eye Surgery which is performed on the surface of the eye.’
In focus: the corrective techniques
- Laser Eye Surgery can be used to treat myopia (short-sight), hyperopia (long-sight) and presbyopia (‘ageing eyes’ that require bifocals) as well as astigmatism, in which the eye is irregularly shaped.
- The most popular and advanced type is LASIK – laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis – introduced in 1996.
- LASEK – laser-assisted epithelial keratomileusis – in which the flap cut is from the protective layer over the eye (the epithelium) and not the cornea, is used when the cornea is too thin for LASIK therapy.
- PRK – photorefractive keratectomy – the original laser refractive surgery technique in which no corneal flap is cut, is rarely used today.
- Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ guidelines say patients should expect to see the surgeon for a consultation and be given time to think before booking surgery.
- Patients should be seen by the surgeon 48 hours after surgery, then after a month and after three months.
- Laser surgery can lead to ‘corneal ectasia’, where fluid pressure builds up, and a corneal transplant is required to correct it.
- Ninety per cent of patients report having close to perfect sight afterwards.
The songstress is utterly delighted with the results, which are permanent. You can read all about Bonnie Tyler’s life changing experience at the London Vision Clinic by reading the Mail Online’s article, How I was saved from a total eclipse of my sight.
Browse more patient testimonials for a better idea of the work we do at London Vision Clinic.
Find out if you too are suitable for any of the vision correction treatments we offer by contacting a Patient Care Coordinator today.