A Brief History of Laser Eye Surgery

Despite its sky-rocketing popularity and innovation in recent years, there remains a shroud of misinformation around Laser Eye Surgery. For example, many people believe that this category of treatment is still in its infancy – after all, the use of lasers does still bring certain connotations to sci-fi films.

Yet, the idea of utilising surgical techniques to improve our vision has actually been around for many years – around half a century, in fact, – in a variety of forms.

Refractive surgery has been consistently advancing since the 1970s, allowing us to treat a whole host of refractory errors. The main concept is to reshape the cornea to change the way light enters the eye and re-focusses on the retina. This technique has allowed for the effective treatment of long-sightedness, short-sightedness, presbyopia and more for decades.

It was the Spanish ophthalmologist Jose Barraquer whose early pioneering work in refractive surgery led the way for the vision correction procedures we recognise today.

With such ground-breaking work as its foundation, Laser Eye Surgery was first introduced over 30 years ago by Professor John Marshall. John Marshall is the Frost Professor of Ophthalmology at the Institute of Ophthalmology in association with Moorfield’s Eye Hospital, and the person who patented the idea of utilising the accuracy of the Excimer laser to reshape the cornea.

Since then, a number of different procedures have been developed. Early procedures – such as PRK and LASEK – used techniques to reshape the surface of the eye — referred to as “surface procedures”. 

While these procedures were innovative at the time, and are still used today, later developments revolutionised refractive surgery even further. Later techniques allowed surgeons to effectively reshape the corneal tissue through a thin flap on the surface of the cornea. This development led to less invasive procedures and faster healing times – the modern LASIK procedure was born.

There is now almost 25 years’ worth of evidence documenting good stability of vision from the LASIK procedure, with no adverse effects over that time period.

Even the earliest Laser Eye Surgery patients are continuing to enjoy clear, high-quality vision many years later.

If the developments seen in the late-20th century weren’t enough, the turn of the 21st century brought even further improvements in the world of Laser Eye Surgery.

The revolutionary ReLEx SMILE and PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision procedures opened up the possibilities of Laser Eye surgery to more patients. Treatment could now be available to those with higher prescriptions, thinner corneas, and the loss of reading vision due to presbyopia.

The introduction of more rigorous screening tests, advanced safety protocols, and effective systems, also improved the overall experience and the standard of outcomes of Laser Eye Surgery.

Laser Eye Surgery has evolved at a lightning pace and remains at the forefront of medical science. From early procedures which required surgical blades to more modern, all-laser techniques, Laser Eye Surgery has now helped to transform the lives of millions all around the globe. With ongoing developments making refractive surgeries evermore accessible, this pace shows no sign of slowing down.

To find out more about LASIK Laser Eye Surgery and other vision correction procedures available at London Vision Clinic, contact one of our friendly clinic coordinators today.