LASIK and PRK eye procedures were developed through a number of interesting inventions more than 50 years ago.
The Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (IEEE) Photonics Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. We have members of this organization to thank for their participation in the development of both PRK and LASIK technology.
The development of the excimer laser which is a device that can make a precise incision in to human tissue, while not damaging surrounding cells, was first tested in the U.S. in 1989. The excimer is a variation of the ruby laser which was created by Theodore Maiman. The maser which stands for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation – was developed in 1953 by Charles H. Townes, James P. Gordon and Herbert J. Zeiger. This device emitted a single wavelength of light but it was uncontinuous and incoherent. The maser inspired ways to make a laser or light amplification by stim emission of a rod that would produce continuous, coherent light.
Theodore Maiman was the first person to develop a working laser. Maiman was a researcher at Hughes Aircraft Co. in Glendale, California. He built his laser in 1960 from synthetic red ruby. According to IEEE, the energy that excited the atoms in the laser’s ruby came from a helical photographic flash lamp surrounded by a cylindrical reflector. A rod of ruby placed at the center of a helix received energy from all sides. The device converted the lamp’s white light into a monochromatic red light that was coherent. Researchers from IBM went on to develop a more precise laser, the excimer (excited dimer) and in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Trokel, an ophthalmologist, they developed an apparatus for performing laser micro surgery on the structure of human eyes.
The first human eye was treated in 1989 using the excimer laser system by Dr. Marguerite B. MacDonald, M.D. She performed Excimer treatment to the surface of the cornea known as photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, to help a myopic patient achieve normal vision. The first U.S. LASIK patent was granted to Dr. Gholam A. Peyman in 1989, covering the procedure used in surgery cutting the cornea, pulling back a flap to expose the corneal bed, ablating the surface to achieve a desired shape, and then replacing the corneal flap.
Eye surgery, using an Excimer laser, was first tested in the U.S. in 1989. The patented LASIK Eye Correction procedure was introduced in 1992 by Dr. Loannis Pallikaris to ten surgeons selected by the FDA to test the laser at ten U.S. surgical centers. LASIK Eye Correction, as a complete patented procedure, was first approved by the FDA in 1999.