The History of LASIK

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The term LASIK is generally used to describe any form of laser eye surgery that is performed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Today, it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of LASIK, because the procedure is a safe and effective way to improve visual acuity and eliminate the need for glasses and contacts.

While most people are familiar with laser eye surgery, that wasn’t always the case. LASIK, like most medical procedures, began with experimentation, testing, refinement, and trials before it was made available to the public and gained widespread attention. So, how exactly did LASIK become a household term?

The Early Days of Eye Surgery

LASIK eye surgery An abnormally curved cornea often causes refractive vision errors. Corneal reshaping was initially developed around 1948 and involved freezing a small portion of the cornea before removing it.  Surgeons were attempting to improve visual errors by changing the way that the eye takes in light.

Laser eye surgeons still correct refractive vision errors by changing the shape of the cornea, but the early methods of doing so pale in comparison to today’s advanced technology. Still, the idea that surgery could improve visual acuity was an innovative concept, and the first step towards LASIK and PRK.

Eye surgery quickly moved away from the original freezing method as the mechanical microkeratome joined the picture. A mechanical microkeratome is a precise bladed instrument that can separate tissue to create a corneal flap. A corneal flap allows surgeons to access and reshape the deeper layers of the cornea with a specialized laser. Some surgeons still use a microkeratome during LASIK to create the corneal flap; however, our surgeons find that this method can be less precise and often slows down the healing process. Instead, we create the corneal flap using a femtosecond laser.

Prior to PRK and LASIK, lasers still weren’t being used for eye surgery at all. Instead, there was a procedure known as radial keratotomy, or RK. This method involved making strategic radial cuts around the cornea to reshape it. This method was an improvement over earlier forms of eye surgery, but PRK and LASIK would soon replace it.

The Development of Laser Eye Surgery

The excimer laser was invented in the 1980’s, though it wasn’t created to improve visual acuity. However, it didn’t take long for people to realize that an ultraviolet excimer laser could have beneficial medical applications. Researchers at IBM discovered that an excimer laser could create clean, precise incisions without affecting the surrounding tissue. 

When used to perform eye surgery, excimer lasers offer precision and facilitate healing. The FDA approved the first excimer lasers in the 1990’s after the technology was refined and thorough, multi-year patient trials were conducted. 

The FDA-approval paved the way for more advancements in the field of LASIK. Innovative diagnostic tools such as the Pentacam were invented. Wavefront Optimized® treatment emerged as a way to customize LASIK procedures in order to address the unique characteristics of every patient’s eyes. Today, LASIK is safer and more predictable than ever when performed by an experienced laser vision correction surgeon using advanced equipment.

Schedule Your Complimentary LASIK Consultation

At Griffin & Reed Eye Care, our surgeons insist on using cutting-edge technology. So many advancements have been made in the field of laser eye surgery, and it would be a disservice to our patients to rely on older, less effective methods. We use the state-of-the-art equipment to conduct your eye exams, plan your procedure, and perform your surgery. 

Our equipment and experience allow us to offer predictable results, which is why we offer 20/20 Vision From Your LASIK Surgery Or Your Money Back to qualifying patients. If you are interested in LASIK, call 916-485-2020 to schedule your complimentary consultation today. We welcome patients from across our Northern California community at our Sacramento and Roseville locations.