History of Laser Eye Surgery

03 Dec 2012

Ever since humans developed difficulty with sight we’ve been finding ways to correct it. Glasses have been worn for hundreds of years, but some revolutionary surgical work was to follow.
The Russians performed the first successful refractive eye surgery in the 1960s and 1970s; a technique called radial keratotomy. It involved making 16 little incisions in the cornea, all the way around like spokes in a bicycle wheel.
This allowed the cornea to flatten out slightly and helped near-sighted people to see objects in the distance without any glasses. It usually had good results and was used on thousands of people-although back then was quite invasive, and difficult to predict exactly how much the refraction would change.
In the 1980s, Jose I. Barraquer was the pioneer of more modern refractive surgery when he developed a process to remove a small piece of corneal tissue from the eye and freeze it so it became hard. It was then reshaped to a specific curve on a spinning lathe and reinserted back onto the patients’ cornea, with results more predictable than the older techniques. The amount of reshaping could be determined in advance depending on the patient’s vision issue.
When argon fluoride Excimer lasers were used to make computer microchips in the 80s, doctors discovered that it was possible to sculpt plastic very accurately using the laser. It wasn’t long before Ophthalmologists thought about using them to sculpt corneal tissue itself.
It was first used successfully on a blind eye (just in case), and then on a well-seeing eye in 1987. A computer was used to control the laser so the surgeon (T. Seiler) could reliably remove the exact amount of tissue from the cornea.
This technique of laser removal (ablation) of corneal tissue is highly effective; the technology is now state of the art and extraordinarily accurate. Millions of people have had refractive eye surgery in the past 20 years with great success.
The advances in the field of laser eye surgery have been astounding; not only can lasers be used with absolute precision; surgeons have learned ho to use biocompatible materials to allow insertion of flexible polymer lens in cases of Presbyopia, where the patient’s own lens has aged and become too stiff to allow proper refraction.
These days Laser Eye Surgery is some of the most technologically advanced, innovative and successful surgery in the world, with minute adjustments ensuring the procedure can be precisely tailored for every single patient. It’s safe, pain-free and affordable.
Learn more about the history of Laser Eye Surgery. Contact Optilase for a free consultation on +353 1 223 8821.

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