An Introduction to LASIK

History of LASIK

Over the years, especially in the latter half of the 20th century See It Clearly, rapid advancements have been made in the field of ophthalmology. Earlier eye surgery was a complex procedure involving invasive surgery and long recovery periods. The invention of the laser changed all that. Its use in a wide variety of fields included eye surgery as well.

Though LASIK surgery was itself developed in 1990 by Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris of Greece and Dr. Lucio Buratto of Italy, the concept of LASIK itself was formulated in 1970. In that year, Dr. Jose Barraquer came out with the first official microkeratome. A microkeratome is a device used to alter the shape of the cornea, a central component of the eye, by cutting thin flaps of it. This process was called keratomileusis. Keratomileusis was a procedure to correct the refraction of the cornea. This was achieved by removing a deep corneal lamella, freezing it, altering its curvature into a new one, and then replacing it.

LASIK is the abbreviation for a surgical procedure of the cornea – Laser-assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. This procedure was jointly developed by the two doctors named above by the fusion of two techniques – keratomileusis, which I have described earlier, and keratectomy. LASIK eye surgery is very widely used nowadays because of two important reasons:

o Improved accuracy compared to other earlier corrective procedures involving the eye or cornea.

o Lesser complications compared to other existing techniques of its time.

In the United States, the first LASIK surgery was performed by Dr. Stephen Brint and Dr. Stephen Blade in 1991. In Germany the first LASIK surgery was performed in 1991 itself by Dr. Tobias Neuhann and Dr. Thomas using an automated keratome.

AS a side note, there is also the LASIK hair removal procedure. This is a procedure wherein extra hair in any part of the body can be removed by destroying the root of the hair follicle.

The LASIK Procedure

LASIK eye surgery is done in two stages:

o The pre-operative stage

o The operation itself

During the pre-operative stage contact lens users are asked to refrain from wearing them for a period varying from between a week to 10 days. Initial examinations of the cornea of the patient are made to detect irregularities in corneal shape, such as astigmatism. The examination is done using a computer-controlled scanner that shots low-power lasers to create a map of the person’s cornea. The surgeon prepares the coordinates for the surgery – the amount of corneal tissue to be removed, the location of the tissue, etc. the patient is also advised to use a mild antibiotic to reduce the chances of the cornea getting infected post-LASIK surgery.

At the start of the operation the patient is administered localized anesthesia in the form of an eye drop. The patient is usually awake during the procedure; he may however be given a sedative. The initial incision is made using a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser and a flap of the cornea at the designated location is cut. In doing so, the flap is folded back to expose the stroma, which is the mid-section of the cornea. Next an excimer laser is used to realign the stroma.