History Of Lasik Surgery

The techniques of refractive surgery predate the history of LASIK surgery, having existed for nearly 50 years, although they are in less common practice than LASIK is today.

The Role of Keratomileusis in the (Pre-)History of LASIK Surgery
Keratomileusis is the term given to any surgical procedure used to improve the function and shape of the cornea. LASIK is a form of laser vision correction, a type of keratomileusis.

The process of keratomileusis was first developed in the 1950s, by a Spanish ophthalmologist named Jose Barraquer. He began his medical career in his home nation, but moved to Bogota, Colombia, in 1953. The medical facility he founded in Bogota, the Barraquer Institute of Technology, served as his think tank and laboratory.

There, he not only developed keratomileusis but also invented new surgical instruments to properly perform this technique: the cryolathe and microkeratome, the latter of which is still used in LASIK today.

The Inception of LASIK
In 1983, the physicist Rangaswamy Srinivasan discovered that the ultraviolet-light-based excimer laser could be applied in etching or drilling organic solids, including human tissue, without causing thermal damage to the surrounding area.

Six years later, the patent for the process of Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) was issued. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not officially approve this procedure until 1999, but it became popular almost immediately after the patent was released. LASIK offered the almost-immediate correction of vision difficulties caused by myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, with fewer side effects than other types of refractive surgery, and quickly eclipsed the prominence of other procedures.

LASIK Correction of Eye Problems Today
As of June 2009, more than 28 million LASIK procedures have been performed in the United States and around the world.

The procedure remains the subject of some debate and controversy. Throughout the 2000s, the FDA and the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have conducted studies and hearings regarding the overall safety of LASIK, and the occurrences of infection or other side effects in patients who had gone through the surgical process.

In response to these incidences of infection and irritation, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) released strict guidelines regarding the manner in which the procedure can be advertised by refractive surgeons and their practices. The risks of LASIK eye surgery must be included in any such advertisements.