Ever wonder how we got on before LASIK (BL)? Let’s take a brief LOOK! The history of laser-assisted vision correction is a long and storied one. Mankind has consistently looked for a way to correct poor vision. The first eyeglasses were used in Italy in the 13th century, and the first contacts were used in Switzerland in the 1880s. However, as innovative as these were, doctors still could not find a permanent way to correct the most common vision problems. The excimer laser was invented in the 1970s, and the technology caught the attention of a Columbia University researcher who used it during a vision correction procedure.
The First Human Correction
In the late 1980s, a 60-year-old female patient with malignant melanoma volunteered for an experimental surgery called PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy. In 1991, the excimer laser was approved for use in Canada in PRK procedures, and it was approved for use in the US in 1995. In 1990, two eye doctors in Europe developed a procedure that would later become LASIK eye surgery. Instead of operating on the corneal surface, the doctors used a blade to cut a very thin flap before using a laser to zap the tissue beneath. The flap served as a natural bandage, and it allowed for lower discomfort and quicker recovery.
Refining the Process of Laser Vision Surgery
As the years went on, doctors continued to find ways to make laser vision surgery even better. In 1999, wavefront analysis was developed. Here, the technology is used to determine a patient’s prescription. Corneal mapping results are as unique as a fingerprint, which allows the corneal specialist to tailor the procedure to the patient’s needs.
By programming the data into the excimer laser, it could be used to more precisely shape the patient’s cornea, resulting in custom surgery with much better results. The use of wavefront analysis in LASIK procedures was approved by the FDA in 2002, which was the same year that LASIK became the most popular elective surgery in the world.
Continued Refinement Achieves Greater Results
The year 2002 saw another development in laser eye surgery: the 100% bladeless method. With a bladeless LASIK eye surgery, a femtosecond laser is used to create the corneal flap at the exact diameter and depth requested by the eye doctor. Both bladeless and bladed LASIK are proven to be effective and safe, but the bladeless method offers many advantages for patients.
If you’re considering LASIK, connect with Dr. John Goosey of Houston Eye Associates to find out if LASIK is right for you.