Approaching Its Silver Anniversary — the History of LASIK

Just about everyone these days either has had LASIK surgery themselves or knows someone who has had it. LASIK is so common today, with millions of patients worldwide opting for the surgery, that it seems the procedure has been around forever. Actually, LASIK has only been performed in the U.S. for approaching 25 years. Since we’re one of Stockton/Manteca’s leading LASIK centers, we thought our patients might be interested to know some of the background of LASIK. Here’s a brief history of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).

What is LASIK?

When you see the full name above, you know why everyone simply uses the acronym LASIK when talking about this vision-changing procedure! LASIK is a reshaping of the cornea using a laser. Why does this vastly improve a patient’s vision? When the cornea is either too flat or short that makes a person farsighted. When it is too long or curved too sharply, a person is nearsighted. And if the cornea is distorted or flattens unevenly, the person has astigmatism and focusing ability is flawed.

It all comes down to refraction. As light enters the lens of the eye, if the cornea isn’t the proper shape to refract the light correctly, then the person’s vision is less than perfect. LASIK reshapes these cornea problems to improve the vision of the patient. The targeted excimer laser beam gently removes, ablates (if you want to be technical), the corneal tissue to correct the refractive angles and allow the patient to see clearly.

It all started in Columbia

In the perfect question to stump players on Jeopardy!, LASIK surgery actually can trace its origins to South America. In the 1950s in Bogota, Columbia, Spanish ophthalmologist Jose Barraquer was the first to test reshaping the cornea to improve vision. He developed the microkeratome, the blade that makes the cut in the outer cornea in LASIK procedures before the laser then reshapes the inner cornea. Back in 1950, Barraquer used the blade to reshape the cornea.

The laser portion of LASIK is thanks to International Business Machines; you may know them as IBM! In 1980 at the IBM Research Laboratory, it was discovered that an ultraviolet excimer laser could etch living tissue without thermal damage to the surrounding area. As the 80s progressed several patents were issued for surgical lasers, the last in 1989 was to specifically modify corneal curvature.

LASIK was used in Europe and elsewhere before it was approved by the FDA in the U.S. Trials began in the U.S. in 1989. The FDA then approved LASIK for standard use in 1992. Twenty-five years later millions of people can see phenomenally well thanks to Dr. Barraquer and the folks at IBM.

LASIK at Central Valley Eye Medical Group

As one of the Central Valley’s leading LASIK centers, Central Valley Eye Medical Group has given thousands of people the gift of perfect vision through LASIK surgery. What about you? Wouldn’t it be nice to ditch the glasses and the contacts and wake up seeing with 20/20 vision? Give us a call and schedule your free LASIK consultation, 1-800-244-9907.

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