History of LASIK
1948, Ophthalmologist named Jose Ignacio Barraquer Moner was fed up with glasses. He now looking for a solution to the blurry vision that repairs the eye itself, without relying on external aids. But the surgery he eventually devised was not for the faint of heart.
Barraquer began by slicing off the front of a patient’s cornea and dunking it in liquid nitrogen. Using a miniature lathe, he ground the frozen cornea into the very precise shape required to focus the incoming light on the retina of the eye. Then he thawed the disc and sewed it back on. Barraquer called this procedure keratomileusis, from the Greek words for “carving” and “cornea.”
And though it might sound grisly, his technique produced reliable results.
How did Barraquer’s surgery work?
Keratomileusis corrects what is called refractive errors: imperfections are removed in such a way that incoming light focuses on the retina of the eye as a healthy eye.
Ideally, the cornea and eye lens work together to focus incoming light on the surface of the retina, but several kinds of refractive errors can impair this delicate system In people with myopia, or short-sightedness, a steep cornea focuses light just short of the retina. Those with hyperopia, or far-sightedness, have the opposite problem: light is focused too far beyond the retina.
And in people with astigmatism, the cornea has two different curvatures due to which light focuses on two different distances which ultimately causes blurry vision. Even those having healthy eye and proper vision will eventually suffer from presbyopia, or “aging eyes.”As the proteins present in the eye lens become aged, they slowly start to increase their size. By an adult’s mid-40’s, the lens is too large to easily change shape and shift focus. Glasses and contact lenses bend light to compensate for these refractive errors.
But, as Barraquer’s procedure shows, we can also alter the shape of the cornea itself;
moving the focal point backward, forwards, or pulling a divided image together. And thankfully, modern eye surgeons can sculpt the cornea with far less invasive tools. In corrective laser eye surgery, surgeons rely on excimer lasers.
These tools are accurate enough to etch words into a human hair. To safely accomplish these ultra-fine incisions, they use a technique called photoablation. This allows the laser to essentially evaporate organic tissue without overheating surrounding eye tissue.
How does laser eye surgery actually work?
- STEP 1: The first step is to separate a thin layer from the front of the cornea. This can be done with either a flat, wide blade or a femtosecond laser that produces millions and millions of small/tiny bubbles of plasma to create a plane beneath the corneal surface.
- STEP 2: Eye Surgeons now lift up the flap to expose the inside of the cornea. Guided by the refractive error and the shape of the cornea, the excimer laser robotically sculpts the exposed corneal bed into the correct shape. This process usually takes less than 30 seconds for each eye.
- STEP 3: Finally, the flap is closed, and its edges reseal themselves in just a few hours. Because the lasering is done on the eyeball itself, it’s described as “in situ,” or “on-site.”Its complete name is “laser in-situ keratomileusis” –but you probably know it as LASIK.
Essentially, this technique used by patient’s those having contact lens prescription onto their cornea.
Risk Factors involved:
- Like any surgical procedure, LASIK also comes with certain risks.
- Some patients experience a slightly blurred vision that can’t be corrected by glasses.
But this procedure is likely to damage your eyes as wearing daily disposable contact lenses for one year.
Today, a new technique named SMILE enables the surgeons to clip the cornea through even smaller incisions and with higher precision –and it further reducing recovery time. And lasers aren’t just correcting the three types of refractive errors –this technology can also restore aging eyes. In a technique called Laser Blended Vision, surgeons adjust one eye to be slightly better at distance vision and the other eye to be better for near vision.
The difference between the two eyes is small enough that most patients can merge their vision,
allowing both eyes to work together at all distances. Advances in laser technology continues to make vision correction surgery more effective and accessible.
Soon, Barraquer’s vision of a world without glasses may finally come true.