Month: April 2016

How Eye Surgery Is Like Modifying Our Genes

Before, laserĀ eye surgery was primarily used to reshape the eyes’ surface with a laser. This procedure was done to correct or improve astigmatism, long-sightedness or short-sightedness so that a person wouldn’t have to wear glasses all the time to see.

Many years ago, it was a pure privilege to be able to practice laser eye surgery. David Gartry (http://davidgartry.co.uk/), for example, needed multiple decades before becoming the UK’s first approved surgeon. Nowadays, laser eye surgery can simply be to get what you want.

In short, science has now shown how eye surgery is like modifying our genes, kind of like playing God.

Remember Dorothy of Oz? In one memorable scene, she asked the people of Oz if they could “dye” her eyes so that it matched perfectly with her gown, from which they happily obliged. Modern advances in molecular genetics have changed the way we think of ourselves; unsurprisingly, this branch of genetic engineering has garnered the most controversy over the last years.

Genes are what makes a person uniquely different from one another. It accounts for skin complexion, hair and eye color, and even gender. People with familiar brown eyes may feel like they got the shorter end of the stick when seeing blue-eyed people, but the premise was that eye color was something that science could not change. Temporary fixes such as blue, gray or green colored contacts only provide an illusion until you remove the lenses.

Today, you can pick out your eye color from a chart, and have a doctor perform eye surgery for a few minutes and a 40 thousand dollar dent in your wallet. How’s that for being able to modify our genes?

Soon, humans will be able to advance further gene editing in embryos to remove diseases before the baby is even born. This advancement would be ethically similar to using laser surgery to remove eye defects. Gene modifications present some life-changing benefits we provide our children with.

Wishing for a healthy, smart and beautiful baby with a slew of desirable characteristics? That may very well be possible in the future, through the wonders of science and genetic engineering.