LASIK has been correcting patients’ vision for nearly 30 years, and over that time there have been major advances in the procedure. However, the history of LASIK can be traced back to early procedures beginning in the 1940s, which inspired LASIK’s inventor. Here is a brief history of the LASIK procedure.
Who Invented LASIK?
LASIK was invented by Dr. Gholam A. Peyman, a retina surgeon and ophthalmologist. He was awarded the patent for the procedure in 1989. Dr. Peyman is a prolific inventor who holds 124 other patents in the U.S. for various medical and surgical techniques, drug delivery systems, medical devices, and treatments or diagnostic methods. The first U.S. clinical trials for LASIK were performed in 1991, and the procedure has continued to advance with new techniques emerging since its first use. These advancements have been discovered by both Dr. Peyman and other scientists and medical professionals.
How Was LASIK Created?
The laser used to perform LASIK, known as the excimer laser, was first used in 1970. Excimer lasers work by emitting ultraviolet spectral light pulses. Prior to the development of this laser, doctors began using a technique that later inspired LASIK in 1948 to correct a refractive error. In this early procedure, the anterior corneal tissue disc was frozen before a lathe was used to remove stromal tissue.
Later, in 1989, an automated tool called a microkeratome was developed to replace the disc without the use of sutures. This procedure was known as automated lamellar keratoplasty.
The excimer laser was first used to reshape the cornea in 1988 after surgeons used a scalpel to create a corneal flap. Finally, in 1990, the microkeratome was used in combination with the excimer laser to automate creating the corneal flap before reshaping the cornea. This combination results in the LASIK procedure.
How Has LASIK Evolved?
Since its introduction, advancements in both the excimer laser and microkeratome have improved LASIK over the years. More recently, wavefront technology and the femtosecond laser have resulted in a new, gold standard in LASIK.
Rather than using the microkeratome to create a corneal flap, many surgeons now use the femtosecond laser. This procedure is known as bladeless LASIK. The femtosecond laser releases short pulses of infrared energy, allowing for enhanced precision as surgeons cut the corneal flap. This results in fewer complications, increased flexibility in the hinge position, improved precision in the flap’s diameter and hinge width, and improved visual outcomes.
Wavefront evaluates the patient’s unique eye characteristics ahead of their LASIK procedure. The information gathered by Wavefront can then be programmed into the excimer laser, which increases the precision of the procedure and tailoring it specifically to each patient’s needs.
What Types of Laser Eye Surgery are Available?
While LASIK is the most common type of laser eye surgery, there are two other options available.
PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is used to correct hyperopia, myopia, and astigmatism, like LASIK. However, this procedure differs from LASIK because rather than creating a corneal flap, the surgeon completely removes and discards a thin part of the cornea. This means that recovery from PRK is longer than LASIK, because the epithelium, or the thin part of the cornea that is removed, must repair itself. Following PRK, patients can expect their vision to be blurry for three to seven days and must use eyedrops for up to three months.
LASEK uses a combination of the techniques used in PRK and LASIK. The major difference between LASEK and PRK is that the epithelium is removed entirely, but replaced following the procedure so it may reattach itself.
What is the Future of LASIK?
Current research in LASIK is focused on removing the surgery element and enhancing the procedure’s precision. New developments and technology could mean that ophthalmologists no longer have to cut the cornea at all. In addition, microscopy techniques may mean that surgeons can enhance the precision of LASIK, eliminating any estimations or approximations and ensuring that all LASIK patients achieve 20/20 vision (or greater) following the procedure.
Finally, some scientists are exploring methods that could correct refractive errors and enhance vision using eyedrops, eliminating the need for lasers entirely. However, this research is in early stages and such advancements would not be possible for decades.
Schedule a Consultation at Boston Laser – Boston Eye Group
At Boston Laser, we offer the most advanced and effective LASIK procedures in Boston. To find out if you’re a good candidate for LASIK, schedule a consultation with Boston Laser – Boston Eye Group by calling (617) 566-0062 or request an appointment online.