As one of the most photographed British women of the 1980s, we’ve all seen our fair share of Page Three pin-up Samantha Fox dressed in, well, very little.
But even after she quit glamour modelling and turned her hand to pop stardom, there was one thing she would never be pictured wearing: her spectacles.
Throughout her career Samantha, now 51, battled severe long-sightedness, relying on high-strength contact lenses and glasses to see.
As one of the most photographed British women of the 1980s, we’ve all seen our fair share of Page Three pin-up Samantha Fox dressed in, well, very little. But even after she quit glamour modelling and turned her hand to pop stardom, there was one thing she would never be pictured wearing: her spectacles
‘I had four different pairs of glasses,’ she remembers as we chat over champagne at her agent’s North London apartment.
‘I’d have one pair of glasses for looking; one for reading and then two pair of prescription sunglasses. It was ridiculous. My eyes got worse over the years. I’ve got about 50 pairs.’
But now, having just undergone a pioneering lens exchange operation – replacing her natural lenses with sophisticated trifocal implants – Samantha couldn’t be happier.
She struggled with her eyesight since childhood and by the age of 15 was wearing glasses full-time.
Then, at 16, she became the youngest-ever Page Three girl. Her buxom body (all natural she insists) was plastered over newspapers, billboards, television and even Playboy magazine before she retired from modelling after just four years to launch a music career.
Glasses were not part of the image and she’d never got on with contact lenses. But she was forced to rely on them when, just before her 21st birthday, she was thrust on to the global music stage following the release of her chart- topping debut single, Touch Me (I Want Your Body). Between 1986 and 1991 she scored a handful of top-30 singles and sold more than 30 million albums.
Now, having just undergone a pioneering lens exchange operation – replacing her natural lenses with sophisticated trifocal implants – Samantha couldn’t be happier
At 51, she is beautiful but more motherly, and wickedly funny with raspy chuckles. She’s smoked for 20 years although she says she’s ‘giving up for my non-smoker partner’. These days Sam, who released her autobiography at the end of last year, is a part-time musician and stepmum to her partner Linda’s 16-year-old twin sons, Noah and Adam, and splits her time between her family and playing 150 international live shows every year.
But years of being blasted with heavy smoke and blinding stage-lights has proved disastrous for her already compromised sight.
‘Being on stage was always awful,’ she’s says. ‘The smoke in the 1980s was oil-based and thick, so after the fourth or fifth song I’d be blinking to get lubricant back into the eyes.’
Then while on stage at a festival in Finland last year, one of Sam’s contact lenses broke in her eye and she was rushed to A&E.
On her return she sought help from Ali Mearza, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at London’s Imperial College NHS Trust, who told her she was suitable for a new trifocal implant. These lenses are designed to vastly improve near, far and intermediate vision.
At 16, she became the youngest-ever Page Three girl. Her buxom body (all natural she insists) was plastered over newspapers, billboards, television and even Playboy magazine before she retired from modelling after just four years to launch a music career
Their sophisticated technology means that 90 per cent of patients, even those with severe prescriptions or cataracts, are left independent from glasses.
Mr Mearza says: ‘The trifocal lens is now the most popular on the market. The light technology enables near, far and intermediate vision, unlike other bifocal lenses which neglect intermediate vision.’
He says trifocal lenses are suitable for most short-sighted, long-sighted and cataract patients and, although ‘more invasive’, the procedure is ‘longer lasting’ than a laser treatment.
Sam had her procedure at Vision Correction London in March. First, local anaesthetic drops are administered. An incision the size of a full-stop is made into the cornea using a small blade and another in the lens capsule. A small tube is used to break up and remove the natural lens, and then insert the implant. The procedure takes 15 minutes per eye. Patients are often up and out within 30 minutes.
When the anaesthetic eased, Sam opened her eyes to a world she’d never quite seen before. ‘I was amazed. I woke up and could read the time on my alarm clock.
Ask a stupid question
SHOULD I POP A BLISTER?
Mike O’Neill, a consultant podiatrist in Windsor says: ‘Ideally, it should be left to heal naturally, because breaking the skin could lead to an infection or delay healing. If it’s smaller than a 5p leave it and cover it with a blister plaster such as Compeed. If the blister is big, or it happens in the middle of a big walk, it might be better to pop it. Use a sterile needle – run it through a flame on a match or lighter – then gently pop the blister and drain the fluid before covering it with a plaster.’
Then I looked at my nails, my rings, my girlfriend’s face when she came into the room – I couldn’t believe it, it was as if I was wearing my glasses.’ Sam returned home from hospital armed with a protective eye patch to wear overnight.
Antiseptic and steroid eye drops are applied several times daily for four weeks, with only one follow-up appointment needed ten days later. The results are said to last a lifetime.
Sam is still getting used to her new eyes. ‘I keep going to reach for my glasses on top of my head. Sometimes it feels like I’m dreaming. It’s amazing!’
Trifocal lens exchange is available at Vision Correction London and costs £6,500. Visit visioncorrection.london. Sam’s autobiography, Forever (Backbeat Books), is available now.