Eminent Colombian doctor, Carlos Rincón, is bringing his groundbreaking surgical technique to patients at the Life & Sun Clinic. His aim is to offer good eyesight to everyone; not just those from affluent backgrounds.
Dr. Carlos Rincón greets me at the Life & Sun Clinic with plenty of joie de vivre, eager to share his plans to bring good eyesight to those who may have been struggling with glasses and contact lenses for years. Marbella is not new to him, since he lived here before heading for Colombia 12 years ago to take part in politics and run for the Presidency.
At the Life & Sun Clinic, Dr. Rincón specialises in surgery for myopia (near-sightedness). Rather than using laser technology, his technique, which he first performed some 36 years ago, is called radial keratotomy; it involves making eight incisions in the cornea to correct the abnormal corneal curve. “The operation lasts just 10 seconds and when a patient walks out, they can see well immediately,” he says.
Dr Rincón notes that his contribution to medicine lies in having simplified this procedure. He has operated on over 98,000 patients so far. He performed a record-breaking operation to cure myopia in just four seconds and on one occasion, he operated on 187 people in a period of 10 hours: “That amounts to 374 eyes!” he muses.
Dr. Rincón claims that his technique, which costs less than half of laser surgery and which can cost even less when performed on a mass scale, should be supported by the government, since it is quick, inexpensive and highly efficient. “In Spain, 38 per cent of people suffer from near-sightedness; it is simply unacceptable that so many people have to rely on reading devices.
To put it simply, people don’t need glasses or lenses… they need to see!” He elaborates: “Imagine the situation in which a pilot or soldier drops their pair of glasses at a crucial moment… they should have optimal eyesight at all times and surgery can achieve that.” In addition to performing surgery himself, he also teaches his technique to other doctors aiming to reduce costs for their patients.
I soon realise that Dr. Rincón is ready and willing to shatter all stereotypes about doctors. Far from having a merely scientific mind, he is an actor, author, cyclist, former football player for Seville and many more things. He has been awarded a prestigious prize by UNESCO and considers himself a social warrior in addition to a sight-giving doctor.
He is also an inventor. “In order to enable doctors to bring my technique to poor populations across the globe, I invented a refractive surgery suitcase that contained everything a surgeon would need.” In addition, he is an “expert in massive visual health brigades,” i.e. he has organised 187 ‘sight camps’ to help the impoverished in Colombia, Argentina, Italy and Puerto Rico.
He laments that national governments have failed to show great enough support for his work, since poor eyesight is a cause for global concern. Earlier in his career, he began working on creating artificially intelligent vision, to help those who would eventually have to face blindness (such as severe glaucoma sufferers), ‘see’ their surroundings through auditory stimuli.
He also designed a system to help those suffering from presbyopia, a condition that occurs around the age of 45, when people find it difficult to focus on near items when reading or working on their computer. Further research needs to be carried out on both systems, though vital government support is required. Above all, Dr. Rincón considers himself to be “un creativo” (a creator), since no single field provides all the answers humanity needs.
Dr. Rincón shows me a few of the plays he has written; one in particular is a ‘what if’ theatrical work musing on the way the world will change with the advent of the female Viagra pill, due to be released in the earlier half of 2015. Laced with humour, the work is an exponent of Dr. Rincón’s active imagination and a reflection of human sexuality and social interaction.
As a man with a keen interest in politics, Dr. Rincón speaks of many current social ills: corruption, unemployment and above all, social apathy. Having created a unique technology that restores the most valuable sense of all (our sight), he asks that we use our eyes for more than just seeing.
Words Marisa Cutillas Photography Kevin Horn
The Life & Sun Clinic is at the Gran Meliá Resort Don Pepe. C/ José Meliá s/n, Marbella. Tel: 952 770 056.