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News & Blog

A Brief History of LASIK Eye Surgery

4th October, 2013  

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In any walk of life, be it business, family, culture etc. you have to know where you come from for the simple matter that it makes you understand the point you are at now, as well as where you could go in the future. LASIK eye surgery may seem to have come from nowhere as the cure for those with impaired vision, but like with any medical marvel, it’s grounded in trial and error, in success and failure. LASIK has a rich past that gives us a good indication of where the industry may go from here; and today we’d like to share that with you.

The earliest known LASIK treatments actually date back to the immediate post war era, as in the rebuilding efforts of war time Japan, Doctor Tsutomu Sato performed the first radical keratotomy surgery (refractive surgery – the earliest form of what would become known as laser eye surgery) in 1950. However, at that point the forerunner for today’s treatments was experimental at best and rudimentary at worst; his results were dismal and often patients left his presence with worse eyesight than they’d come in with.

The practice remained in this unfavourable stage until the 1970’s, when gains were made by a Russian doctor by the name of Fyodrov, who began to conduct intensive studies into the prior efforts made into refractive surgery and became a leading expert in the field of keratotomy when he worked out the formula experts needed to apply to correctly make the surgical incisions needed for the practise to benefit and not hinder the patient.

Later in the decade saw the first exploration into applying laser technology to the practice of keratotomy with IBM researcher Doctor Srinivasin, who realised the potential of the excimer laser to replace the somewhat tricky to use surgeon’s scalpel in this type of surgery, when before they had been used solely for industry. This led to the development of photorefractive keratotomy, a style of surgery that replaced the scalpel with the laser to make the incision in 1983 in collaboration with Stephen Trokel in Germany. This became the beginning of the modern laser eye surgery industry.

LASIK as we know it today grew from these keratotomy roots in 1991, when the style of LASIK we know today, which is more sophisticated than merely working through incision, was established as a result of clinical trials in the US. Since then LASIK has turned into an industry that has benefitted he eyesight of many people the world over.

When we look at where treatments may go from here, we see that it depends on two things. Firstly, it depends on innovation and the bravery to try out something new, even if it may not prove successful. Secondly it depends on the rapid advancement of laser technology. With laser technology advancing at an unseen rate in 2013, the sky really is the limit.

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