As I See It

Because music makes everything better — even surgery

I love music. One of the places I enjoy listening to music the most is in the OR. I realize with some clinicians it’s controversial. I’ve read articles by those I deeply respect and admire who don’t allow music in the OR, as they want to be totally focused on the matters at hand and feel the music is a distraction. Sometimes I agree. It could be distracting. The music might be too loud. Worse, a Nickelback or Justin Bieber song might come on.

But, in general, I find having music playing in the OR to be relaxing and just make the day go more smoothly — as long as we are playing quality music I enjoy.


Which brings me to the ultimate eye surgery playlist. What better music to play in your OR than eye-related music? If you are smart, you’ll pick most of your music from the best era ever for your patients: the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Why? Just think about it. Your 70-year-old cataract patient was a rockin’ 20-year-old in 1974. I can’t tell you how many of my patients make positive comments about the song selection.

And let’s be real — most of the best music was produced before MTV ruined everything, back when songs were more about musical quality and not about the silly videos. Can you imagine Britney Spears making it on vocal talents alone? And it’s not just me — scientific studies back this up!1


So, my staff and I compiled the best songs possible (in my humble opinion) to relax to while phaco-ing away. Comments are included for younger surgeons who didn’t have cool parents listening to these songs when they were growing up.

Private Eyes – 1981, Hall and Oates, mostly included to make their No. 1 fan, Dr. Laura Periman, happy.

These Eyes – 1968, The Guess Who. No really, that’s their name.

Lyin’ Eyes – 1975, Eagles, who received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Group for this song.

For Your Eyes Only – 1981, Sheena Easton. The theme song to the 12th James Bond movie of the same title. And, well, Sheena Easton.

Doctor My Eyes – 1972, Jackson Browne, who not only wrote for himself, but also is the author of songs by the Eagles, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt and others. Bonus: We get both “eyes” and “doctors” in the same song.

Behind Blue Eyes – 1971, The Who. Don’t be led astray by the Limp Bizkit remake. Insist on the original.

I Only Have Eyes for You. Introduced in 1934, the best-known version of this song came out the year I was born, 1959, by The Flamingos. I promise your patients will smile and reminisce when they hear this one.

My Eyes Adored You, 1974 and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, 1967, a double header by Frankie Valli.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – 1969, Crosby, Stills and Nash, a song about Stephen Still’s ex-girlfriend, singer Judy Collins. Also a fine example that CSN did very well without Neil Young.

And finally …

In Your Eyes – 1986, Peter Gabriel. If you don’t immediately visualize John Cusack holding a “boom box” over his head to win the heart of Ione Skye — well, I’m sorry, but we just can’t be friends. OM


  1. Matson J. Is Pop Music Evolving, or Is It Just Getting Louder? Scientific American. July 26, 2012. . Accessed May 8, 2019.