History of LASIK

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LASIK ‘s Beginnings

Many people think of LASIK as a recent development in eye care, but the actually goes back more than half a century. As early as the 1740s, scientists were considering the idea of using lens removal to treat myopia, and by the mid nineteenth century, the invention of the keratometer and the development of topical anesthesia were causing the field of cataract surgery to progress rapidly. It was in the middle of the twentieth century, however, that modern LASIK techniques were developed.

In 1950, in Jose Barraquer, an ophthalmologist in Bogotá, Colombia, developed both the microkeratome and a technique to cut flaps in the cornea in order to alter its shape. His process was called karatomileusis, and Barraquer is considered “the father of modern refractive surgery”. He was concerned with how much of the cornea a surgeon needed to leave unaltered in order for the long-term results to have stability, and he researched the question extensively.

In the 1970s, radial keratotomy was developed in the USSR, and in 1973, Mani Lal Bhaumik patented the excimer laser. In 1983, Dr. Steven Trokel of Columbia University developed photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, and published an article extolling the benefits of using Bhaumik’s invention in refractive surgeries.

Refractive surgeries are those operations that change a patient’s optical measurements, and by the time Dr. Trokel published his article, excimer lasers had already been used to ablate (or etch) corneal tissue. Trokel was the first one to recognize the potential for using this ablation process to correct optical errors such as myopia and astigmatism. He, along with Dr, Charles Munnerlyn and Terry Clapham, went on to found VISX, Incorporated, and in 1989, the first human eye was treated with a VISX laser system.

In 1989, the first LASIK patent was granted to Dr. Gholam A. Peyman, for the surgical procedure of cutting a flap into the cornea, exposing the corneal bed, and ablating the surface with an excimer laser before replacing the flap. This technique was practiced successfully in other countries before it was approved in the United States, but the FDA began a trial of the excimer laser in 1989 and approved it for PRK.  The concept of LASIK was introduced in 1992, to a group of surgeons selected by the FDA to test the VISX laser at ten centers in the United States. Summit Technology was the first US company to get approval from the FDA for the mass manufacture and distribution of excimer lasers to perform LASIK.

Among the pioneers of LASIK surgery is Dr. Gary Tylock. Having performed laser surgeries since 1986, Dr. Tylock was one of the first surgeons to perform ALK, the immediate predecessor of LASIK. He has over 11,000 LASIK procedures to his credit, has been named by VISX as part of the top five percent of refractive surgeons nationwide, and is a vital part of the history of LASIK. He was instrumental in the manufacturing of one of the first excimer lasers designed exclusively for LASIK, the development of which played a critical role in helping establish LASIK as a standard procedure for both doctors and patients.

In Dallas, Texas, Dr. Tylock heads up the Tylock-George Eye Care and Laser Center. He and his dedicated team are committed to providing the best in cutting edge techniques, and excellent patient care. To learn more, visit the Tylock website, or join the online community on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.