By Dr Angelo Appiotti

The (false) promise of a Steel Jeeg-like vision

By 13 December 2019 No Comments
The (false) promise of a Steel Jeeg-like vision

A few days ago, I was flicking through a famous sports newspaper when I stumbled across the most bewildering article on a new refractive surgery technique, namely Femto-LASIK Lux, that only used “natural” methods instead of surgical procedures.
“I’ll be damned!” I thought. How could it be that I, an eye surgeon with over 30 years of experience, who always tried to keep up to date, did not know of such a revolutionary technique? How could it be that I had come across the biggest discovery in refractive surgery in a sports newspaper article? Truth be told, my pride was quite hurt, but I decided to keep on reading to learn about this new incredible technique that was destined to replace us “old-fashioned” eye surgeons.
I read the article very carefully, trying to uncover the secrets of a type of surgery that would surely revolutionise refractive surgery as we know it, and I must say that I was swamped in a wide array of emotions. On the one hand I was happy to see that maybe my time had not come yet, and that there was a valid reason as to why I had never heard of that 100% natural technique before. On the other hand, though, I was mad at the article for tricking me into believing in something that some would call a “click bait”, or even “fake news”: the surgery technique at issue was none other than the Femto-LASIK technique (with “LUX” added to its name), which I have been performing for many years and undoubtedly is a surgical technique, no matter what the article said. As a matter of fact, the article explained that with “Femto-LASIK Lux” a dissection – not an incision – was performed, thus it could not be considered a surgical procedure. However, this is wrong, because dissection is a technique used in microsurgery requiring a scalpel, electric scalpel or laser.
Therefore, this was the first false claim in the article. FemtoLASIK is a surgical technique!
Whether it uses natural methods is also up for debate: the article mentioned photon beams being used in the second part of the procedure (I assume the article was referring to UV rays and not to Steel Jeeg’s laser beams!), together with vitamin B eye drops to strengthen the cornea after Femto-LASIK (this problem has been solved by ReLex SMILE, the true revolutionary refractive surgery technique).
The above-mentioned technique is nothing new: it is called “cross-linking”, a procedure that is usually adopted to treat keratoconus. Now, saying that cross-linking is a natural technique seems a bit of a stretch to me, because it depends on what we mean by “natural”. Is it natural because UV rays exist in nature? Then some kinds of radiotherapy used to treat cancer are natural too, since ionising radiations are generated by lighting.
In conclusion this article, which takes advantage of the poor medical knowledge of its readers to promote an erroneous idea, made me want to take an antacid. After working for many years in the field of refractive surgery, trying my best to always be accurate with colleagues and patients alike, I developed an intolerance to a specific type of fake news.
It is a shame, really, since the idea of getting super-vision thanks to photon beams, like in the Japanese anime I used to watch as a kid, was quite tempting.
Alas, my dream of getting a Steel Jeeg-like vision will never come true.