LASIK - Then and Now

Lasik Eye Surgery
  Additional Information:
  • LASIK Eye Surgery
  • LASIK Risks
  • LASIK Benefits
  • LASIK Surgery Cost

    Have you ever sat back and wondered, where did LASIK come from? Maybe not, but you should. Why not, LASIK has an interesting history! There is so much media covering the advantages of LASIK surgery today, people often forget about the history and development of this extraordinary procedure. Where did it all start? Would you believe in the mind of an ordinary surgeon? Ok it's a bit more complicated than that...

    The history of LASIK is quite unique. A lonely fellow named Dr. Jose Barraquer of Spain developed the first microkeratome instrument, the foundation of traditional LASIK procedures, about the year 1960. This instrument (the microkeratome) is necessary for creating the corneal flap commonly associated with ALK and LASIK surgery. The microkeratome tool creates a flap in the cornea roughly 100 to 200 micrometers thick (compared with the typical thickness of the cornea, roughly 500 to 600 micrometers).

    During Dr. Barraquer's time, surgeons used the microkeratome to cut thin flaps in the cornea and change its shape. They called this procedure keratomileusis. Much like LASIK today the goal of surgery included improved vision.

    The leading researchers whose goals included investigating this new technique provided the foundation for the later development and mastery of the LASIK surgery strategy used today allowing more precise vision correction.

    LASIK in Modern History
    While the foundation for LASIK was lain in the 1960s, it wasn't until 1990 that an Italian and Greek doctor, Dr. Lucio Buratto and Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris respectively, started combining the keratomileusis technique with a procedure referred to as photo refractive keratectomy. This technique quickly gained a strong following as it allowed surgeons more precision and a lower risk of complications than with either one technique vs. the other.

    The First LASIK Procedure
    The first LASIK surgery wasn't performed until a year later, in 1991. Two American Drs., Stephen Brint and Slade performed the surgery. The same year other surgeons soon followed suit, all experiencing good results and minimal complications.

    Once word got out that a new laser surgery technique was available providing customers better vision with little risk of complication, well… the rest IS history.

    LASIK Today
    LASIK today is one of the most popular forms of corrective surgery. Not for everyone, LASIK provides many the opportunity to see better than they have their entire lives. Today's surgical procedure involves two main steps.

    First, surgeons create the flap of corneal tissue commonly associated with laser surgery. A microkeratome instrument is still used today to help achieve this aim. The flap created leaves tiny raised bubbles within the lining of the cornea. The surgeon lifts the flap after creating it, revealing the mid section of the cornea for inspection and repair.

    Surgeons next use the excimer laser to help reshape the corneal stroma. Tissues surrounding the stroma are avoided to reduce the risk of complications. The surgeon carefully removes tiny layers of tissue until the cornea is shaped more ideally.

    The result? Shortly after surgery most patients report improved vision. Many times patients are able to see well for the first time in their lives without wearing corrective lenses. This is perhaps, the biggest advantage LASIK surgery has to offer, and one of the reasons LASIK is so popular among consumers.

    Thanks to modern scientific innovations, more and more people are also now finding LASIK surgery more affordable than ever. There may even be instances where patients may receive partial reimbursement for surgery (check in with your health insurance provider; provisions are likely limited).

    Regardless, many report they would happily stash away the finances necessary to invest in a lifetime of improved sight and quality of life. While there are some risks associated with LASIK surgery (common examples include dry eyes, over or under correction, ghosts or light sensitivity) most patients recover with few complications.

    If you are interested in LASIK, check in with your doctor to decide whether you are a good candidate for surgery, or visit our archives and content library to learn more about LASIK and related procedures.

    Learn more about correcting vision with LASIK eye surgery on our forums!