Intended for healthcare professionals


Changing face of refractive surgery

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 01 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:49
  1. Simon Hill, senior house officer in adult psychiatry (tarlyhill{at}
  1. Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX37JX

    EDITOR—The article by Shah and Dua on refractive surgery does not mention that most of this surgery is done on young people, mostly women, for reasons of vanity.1 Most of the work is done privately for profit, and because of this I believe that the consumer needs some added protection from the biased advice of the companies offering refractive surgery.

    While I was a surgical houseman two years ago I had both my eyes operated on with an excimer laser. I wanted the operation so I could stop wearing glasses. I thought I looked ugly in them. I was moderately myopic in my left eye, +2.5D, which was perfectly corrected by glasses. After the operation I have suffered severe haze and my myopia, although initially corrected, has deteriorated to +4D. The severe haze and continued myopia in my left eye make life quite difficult. When reading I have to close one eye. Driving now feels dangerous, and I am a worse driver because of the poor vision in my left eye. The haze is not correctable with glasses. I regret on a daily basis my decision to have the operation. My vision is irreparably damaged, and all because I was vain and did not like glasses.

    I believe that it is unethical to operate purely for reasons of vanity when the potential for serious damage to vision is so large. I did not need to be referred by my general practitioner to have the operation. I simply went to the clinic. A sensible general practitioner might have put me off.


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