LASIK is a type of refractive surgery used to correct common vision issues, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, with the goal of reducing a person’s dependency on prescription glasses or contact lenses. The development of LASIK eye surgery was inspired over a half century ago and continues to advance as new technologies are invented.
Beginning in the 1950s, Columbian ophthalmologist Jose Barraquer created the first blade used to cut small flaps in the cornea, called the microkeratome. These incisions allowed Barraquer to manipulate the shape of the cornea to help make up for a patient's natural refractive flaws. Although the invention of the microkeratome went on to influence future scientists and ophthalmologists, the original outcome and accuracy of these types of procedures was not ideal.
In the early 1980s, a team of scientists discovered that the Excimer laser, an ultraviolet laser originally manufactured in the 1970s for imprinting computer microchips, could be used to remove precise areas of living tissue without causing significant heat damage to surrounding tissue. This discovery inspired Stephen L. Trokel, a New York City ophthalmologist and Columbia University researcher, to perform a series of tests using the Excimer laser directly with corneal tissue.
After years of experimenting with animal and human cadavers, as well as living animal corneas, the first human laser refractive surgery, known as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), was performed in 1988. Marguerite MacDonald, a colleague of Trokel, successfully completed PRK on a 60-year-old woman who volunteered her eye to science before it was removed due to cancer.
In 1995, the United States FDA approved the Excimer laser for use in PRK.
Throughout the 1990s, European doctors Ioannis Pillakaris and Lucio Burrato refined PRK by adding a technique using a blade to cut a flap in the cornea, lift the tissue to be exposed to the laser, and replace the flap to its original location on the cornea after completion. The flap, acting as a bandage, allowed for faster healing and less pain. This new type of refractive surgery later became known as LASIK.
In 1999, the United States FDA approved LASIK eye surgery.
Since the approval of LASIK in the United States, revisions and enhancements have continued to make laser refractive surgery even better. With constant advances in technology and laser programming, doctors can accurately reshape the cornea for a customized procedure for each patient's unique prescription.
Since the early 2000s, over 28 million LASIK procedures have been performed, making LASIK eye surgery the most common elective procedure in the world.
Contact us today to learn more about why laser vision correction may be right for you.