Over the past 400 to 500 years, scientists and physicians have researched vision problems looking for a cure. This research has focused on refraction problems ever since Leonardo da Vinci first speculated that refraction was the key to correcting peoples vision. The development of Lasik Surgery is the culmination of this research.
To understand the origin of Lasik, one needs to follow the development of both ocular anatomy and laser technology. As stated previously, the science behind correcting vision problems with lasers began with the understanding that correcting refraction errors would improve a patients vision. As technology improved, new instruments allowed researchers to better view the cornea and see areas where corrections were necessary. Knowing what areas needed to be corrected was one of the first steps that allowed for the development of a workable treatment.
In the 1950s, ophthalmologist Jose Barraquer developed techniques to cut flaps in the cornea and reshape it. Later, Svyatoslav Fyodorov worked to perfect Radial keratotomy, which is a refractive surgery for correcting myopia or near-sightesdness. Radial keratotomy is still performed to correct astigmatism because it has been proven to remain an effective treatment.
As laser technology has evolved, researchers have applied them to various uses. In 1980, researchers from IBM began experimenting with lasers to duplicate the RK surgery, replacing the diamond knife with an ultraviolet excimer laser. In trials, they found that these lasers could mimic the effectiveness of the diamond knife, but produce an incision in the cornea that was much smoother. Further development and refinement continued through the decade, leading to patents and eventual FDA approval led to the first centers to offer LASIK in 1992.
Further refinements have led to faster lasers, larger spot areas, and bladeless flap incisions. These development help to improve the effectiveness of the surgery while reducing the risks of cornea damage. Planning and pre-operative procedures have been standardized and precautions are now in place that increase the safety of the procedure. Patients who wear contact lenses need to follow the surgeon’s instructions concerning when to stop wearing their lenses prior to surgery. This allows the corneas to recover some of their oxygen absorbing properties prior to surgery.
Research and experimentation has brought LASIK surgery to widespread acceptance and use over the recent two decades. Continued developments should prove to increase the comfort and efficacy of the surgical procedures. Current techniques have a high rate of success and most patients are pleased with the results.
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