A Brief History Of Laser Eye Surgery

From most things you hear and read, and its name, you would think Laser Eye Surgery is a relatively new technique.

But the idea of surgically correcting vision by reshaping the surface of the eye has actually been around for many years — around half a century — in a variety of forms.

The field is known as refractive surgery. And since the 1970s, its purpose has been to change the way light enters the eye by reshaping the cornea, removing refractive errors, and effectively re-focussing the light onto the retina to result in clear, crisp vision.

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

With such ground-breaking work as its foundation, Laser Eye Surgery was first introduced around 20-25 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 using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea thanks to the accuracy of the Excimer laser itself.

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

Over the years, through better understanding and technology, the healing times were reduced with the discovery that reshaping the cornea’s underlying tissue could be better done through a thin flap directly onto the cornea.

This is where the modern LASIK procedure was born.

There is now over 15 years of evidence that documents good stability of vision from the LASIK procedure, with no adverse effects over that long period of time.

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

In the 21st century, Laser Eye Surgery has evolved even further. The revolutionary ReLEx SMILE and PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision procedures make the treatment available for people with higher prescriptions, thinner corneas, and loss of reading vision due to presbyopia.

What’s more, with the introduction of more rigorous screening tests, advanced safety protocols, and effective systems, the overall experience and standard of outcomes of Laser Eye Surgery have only improved.

From the beginning of its life as a limited procedure that was trialled on animal and cadaver eyes and which used an instrument that operates on the principle of a carpenter’s plane, to a minimally-invasive key-hole procedure that has transformed the lives of millions of people, Laser Eye Surgery has always been at the forefront of medical science. And today, with developments in cataract surgery and the procedure evermore accessible to more people, there is no sign of it slowing down.

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

Dr Tim Archer
Dr Tim Archer

Dr Timothy Archer graduated from Oxford and Cambridge Universities with an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and a postgraduate degree in Computer Science. He joined the clinic in 2003, where he established his career specialising in laser refractive surgery research alongside Professor Reinstein. Today, he manages the in-house research team, of which achievements include 124 peer-reviewed papers, 32 book chapters, over 100 scientific articles and a published textbook. He also oversees and edits the content on London Vision Clinic’s website.