Since its approval two decades ago, LASIK surgery has grown in popularity among people who wear glasses or contact lenses.
LASIK, like all revolutionary medical procedures, evolved over time. The study and precision of the procedure led to its current high standard of safety and effectiveness.
Here’s a quick look at the history of LASIK so you can see how it went from an unproven surgery to the one we trust today.
The Early Stages of LASIK Eye Surgery
Since the 1800s, surgery has been used to treat refractive eye conditions. Radial Keratotomy (RK), a treatment for nearsightedness that involved making tiny radial cuts in the surface of the cornea, was first used in 1898. But because this method depended a lot on the surgeon’s hands-on skills, it didn’t work very well.
In the early 1960s, an eye doctor named José Barraquer came up with a procedure called keratomileusis, which means “carving the cornea” in Greek. Dr. Barraquer would remove a piece of corneal tissue with a surgical blade called a microkeratome. The tissue was then frozen, reshaped, and reapplied to the eye’s surface.
The Game Changer
In the late 1970s, U.S. doctors began the RK procedure. In 1980, IBM researcher Rangaswamy Srinivasan discovered that the excimer laser, (originally developed for computer chip production) could cut biological tissue precisely and accurately without damaging the surrounding area. Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) uses the excimer laser to remove the cornea’s epithelium and reshape the exposed corneal stroma.
A 60-year-old woman with severe vision problems allowed surgeon Marguerite McDonald to perform the first PRK procedure on her damaged eye in 1988.
LASIK is born
Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris invented LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) in the early 1990s by combining the microkeratome and excimer laser. The excimer laser reshapes corneal tissue after the microkeratome creates a thin corneal flap in LASIK. The flap helps surgeons fix vision issues and heals naturally.
LASIK as we know it today
LASIK vision correction has become relatively common. Approximately 700,000 LASIK surgeries are performed each year, according to the most recent study.
As with any surgery, LASIK vision correction success depends on patient suitability.
Contact us today to schedule a Comprehensive Eye Screening to find out if you’re a LASIK candidate. We look forward to seeing you!
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