It's hard to imagine that as far back as the 1950s techniques were being developed that would influence modern eye care. Today, LASIK surgery is one of the most progressive and innovative options available for people who grow tired of worrying about glasses or contact lenses. Consider some facts about the history of LASIK and what the future holds for laser vision correction in Birmingham.
In the Beginning
As early as the 1950s, medical scientists were looking for ways to correct vision by altering the shape of the cornea, but it was ophthalmologist Jose Barraquer in Colombia that started the LASIK history story when he found the first surgical solution to vision correction. He perfected a procedure that cut a flap into the cornea in order to change its shape. That is still the basis of modern techniques like LASIK.
Introducing the Excimer Laser
In 1980, a researcher Rangaswamy Srinivasan with IBM found that a special type laser was effective for etching human tissue without causing damage to the surrounding area. That was the birth of medical laser technology, and the inspiration for laser assisted radial keratotomy. Lasers introduced precision into the technique used by Jose Barraquer, which was done with manual cutting. The first refractive laser surgery was done on a human in 1989.
The Flap and Zap
In 1990, two eye doctors in Europe originated a process that was a precursor for LASIK surgery. The technique was referred to as the flap and zap method. They would cut a flap into the corneal surface, use a laser to zap tissue out to reshape it and then close the flap to cover the wound. This is very similar to what eye surgeons do today with LASIK, although the methodology is more refined and individualized.
Today, LASIK surgery is more sophisticated than the work of the "Father of Refractive Surgery" Jose Barraquer. It is an outpatient procedure that takes just 30 minutes or so per eye. A small flap is cut and folded back and a precision laser used to reshape the cornea. Afterward, the patient wears a patch over the eye to allow for healing. Over time the vision stabilizes and the patient can see without vision correction products like eyeglasses or contact lenses.
What is the Future of LASIK?
Although the underlying technique is very similar to what was done in the 1950s, LASIK surgery continues to evolve to improve the outcomes and reduce the risk of complications. From bladeless surgeries to SMILE, laser eye surgery is growing up.