Many technological advances start slowly and then one breakthrough can propel it forward at an amazing rate. The mystery of flight changed with the invention of a “propeller.” Laser vision correction history is similar.
It took centuries to develop ways to correct man’s vision. Eye glasses, then contact lenses dominated the way doctors treated patients with vision problems. Then finally one significant event occurred to suddenly change everything and led rise to a brand new form of vision correction. Let’s take a look at how this one event changed vision correction into laser vision correction.
The Motivation Leading to Laser Vision Correction
Not everyone who wore glasses and contacts was satisfied with their vision. Nor were the doctors who treated them. They sought a more permanent way to correct the three refractive errors of nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.
Contact lenses work by changing the shape of the cornea to help correct vision, but they are a temporary fix. Once you remove them, your vision reverts back. Researchers and eye surgeons knew changing the shape of the cornea was the key, but how do you do that safely and permanently?
The Birth of the Laser and Refractive Surgery
The first major breakthrough in laser vision correction was the development of the excimer laser. This cool laser beam of ultraviolet light made it possible to remove (or ablate) miniscule amounts of tissue and not damage any surrounding tissue. It therefore changes the shape of the cornea like contacts do, but it does so permanently allowing light to focus precisely on the retina for good vision.
Although discovered in the 1970s, the excimer laser was not approved for use in Canada until the early 1990s and in the US in 1995. The first widespread form of laser vision correction was known as PRK or Photorefractive Keratectomy and, in the beginning, was only approved to treat myopia or nearsightedness. This early form of refractive surgery is still performed today and is recommended for certain patients who are not good candidates for LASIK. It remains both a safe and a great alternative to wearing glasses and contacts.
During a PRK surgery the entire epithelium (top layer of the cornea) is removed so the surgeon can reach the inner cornea for treatment with the laser. Thousands of patients were highly motivated to have this new laser surgery, and they became the first to experience the innovation of laser vision correction.
PRK surgery remains a safe and successful way to treat certain patients who have myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
The next major step involved finding a way to preserve the epithelium during surgery. This was accomplished with a medical device called a microkeratome. It creates a thin flap on the surface of the cornea and is folded back to expose the inner cornea.
The surgeon was then able to fold back and replace the flap after treatment. This change provided faster healing time than PRK, less discomfort and resulted in the “wow” factor. The flap became a virtual band aid over the cornea, and the patient’s vision improved dramatically overnight.
Shortly thereafter other advances were made in laser vision correction history.
- Eye tracking became standard for laser vision surgery. It allowed the laser to follow a patient’s involuntary eye movements during surgery. The laser remained focused on the target unless the eye wandered too far.
- Wavefront technology gave surgeons the ability to map a patient’s prescription as precisely as a fingerprint and program that treatment into the laser. What resulted was a more precise and customized treatment for even better outcomes.
The Femtosecond Laser
The next major advancement in laser vision correction history was the femtosecond laser. Different from the excimer laser it could be used to create the flap eliminating the use of the microkeratome blade. Today, surgeons create the flap safely and more precisely with the femtosecond laser.
OptiVision Eye Care uses both the iFS Femtosecond Laser Suite and the AMO-Visx Star4 CustomVue excimer laser for its laser vision correction. This combination of laser vision technology is the most advanced in the nation. It provides faster, safer, more precise treatments, and the US military approves this technology for our soldiers, navy pilots, and astronauts.
Bladeless LASIK delivers a high definition visual result unsurpassed by other technologies.
Your Lucky Day
Today’s patients are lucky enough to live in this golden age of laser vision correction. With the technology of today you have the opportunity to experience the best of the best.
Trust your eyes to the professionals at OptiVision Eye Care. Schedule your free LASIK evaluation and become part of laser vision correction history.
Or call 1.800.20HAPPY