Nearly 30 Years of Improving Vision — the History of LASIK

LASIK surgery is so commonplace today, with millions of patients worldwide opting for the surgery, that it seems the procedure has been around forever. But in reality, LASIK has only been common in the U.S. for just over 28 years. Since we perform thousands of LASIK procedures every year for patients across the Central Valley, we thought in this second blog of July you might be interested in a little history of this popular vision correction surgery known as laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).

What is LASIK?

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.

The problem is 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 started in Columbia

LASIK 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.

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 given the green light in the U.S. Scientific trials began in the U.S. in 1989, and the FDA approved LASIK for standard use in 1992.

LASIK at Central Valley Eye Medical

 As one of the California’s leading LASIK centers, our surgeons at Central Valley continue to add new technology to these procedures. The latest is the CustomVue™ Individualized Laser Vision Correction system developed by VISX. This system provides a precise level of measurement and correction never before possible.

Don’t you think it’s about time you ditched the contacts or glasses and woke up seeing with 20/20 vision? Give us a call and schedule your LASIK consultation at Central Valley Eye Medical Group. Call us at (800) 244-9907 to make an appointment at our Stockton, Manteca, or Modesto offices.

Posted in: LASIK


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