At the Eye Care Institute, we’ve been performing LASIK surgery to help our patients throw away their glasses and contacts for a long time. In fact, Drs. Barth and Rich have performed this laser vision correction procedure since 1996. 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 performed in the U.S. for just 25 years. Since LASIK is a major part of our Santa Rosa business, we thought our patients might be interested to know some of the backgrounds of LASIK. Here’s a brief history of 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
This surprises people but 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 approved by the FDA in the U.S. Trials began in the U.S. in 1989. LASIK was then first approved by the FDA for standard use in 1992.
It keeps getting better
Over the last 15 or so years, laser vision correction has evolved. In the early days of LASIK, the procedure was limited to treating only nearsightedness. But today at the Eye Care Institute we treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. There also formerly were age limits on the procedure, but those also are largely gone. Today, patients from 18 to 80 can have laser correction, sometimes even if they’ve had cataract surgery.
LASIK at the Eye Care Institute
As Sonoma’s leading eye care specialists, the Eye Care Institute is the referral resource for over 80 local eye care professionals when it comes to LASIK procedures. 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, (707) 546-9800.