In 2017 it was estimated that over eight million people in the United States have had LASIK eye surgery. And these numbers are only continuing to rise, with over 700,000 procedures performed each year. It is one of the quickest, most convenient and cost-efficient surgeries that you can have, and the technology is getting better and better each year.
Huge advancements have been made in eye health in just the past couple generations. For our grandparents, a vision prescription meant a lifelong commitment to progressively stronger eyeglasses; and for our parents, it meant the daily trials and tribulations of contact lenses. But today, imperfect vision is not a life sentence. For many people, it is something that can be corrected with relative ease.
Here’s a quick look at the scientific progression that has led to the options that we have available today.
Major contributors and milestones in LASIK eye surgery.
The first LASIK eye surgery took place less than 30 years ago. This was achieved after key foundational research was done around altering the cornea in order to sharpen the image on the retina, which can be distorted due to corneal shape and angle.
A big turning point was the development of the excimer laser in 1970 at the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow. Researchers at the IBM laboratory pushed this scientific advancement further, discovering that this laser could precisely cut through living tissue without heat damage.
Dr. Steven Trokel performed the first vision correction laser surgery in 1987. And, after further research and discovery, Dr. Stephen Slade and Dr. Stephen Brint would be the first LASIK eye doctors, successfully completing the surgery in 1991.
Recent advancements and LASIK today.
State-of-the-art incision tools and computer-run lasers are essential to LASIK eye surgery today. Simply speaking, LASIK eye doctors cut a thin flap in order to access the cornea, after which they are able to alter the light refraction, which allows the retina to send a clearer image to the brain. The eye’s corneal tissues have the power to self-heal, making recovery relatively quick and easy.
And technology is advancing every year. Today, LASIK eye surgeons have access to the advanced laser technology, Intralase, which has made the initial incision to access the cornea even more precise.
By all measures, LASIK eye surgery is a generally safe and effective procedure. Nearly all patients see some sort of marked improvement in their eyesight soon after the surgery. And, according to recent studies, seven out of ten individuals leave the surgery with 20/20 vision or higher. Very few complications tend to arise, and those that do are usually mild and temporary.