Eye Science: 1st Century Roots, Modern Day Impacts

With the state-of-the-art technology and expertise of today, it is easy to think of “eye science” as a fairly modern concept. But humans have likely been struggling with visual errors such as myopia and presbyopia for as long as they have roamed the earth. It should come as no surprise, then, that we have been thinking up solutions to these errors for thousands of years.

The first written record of magnification dates back around 2,000 years and the time of the Roman Emporer Nero. One of Nero’s students, Seneca the Younger, observed in the 1st century CE how “letters, however small and indistinct, are seen enlarged and more clearly through a globe or glass filled with water.”

However, written history suggests that there was a long hiatus between this observation and any significant developments in the way of visual aids. In fact, it wasn’t until 1021 CE (almost a thousand years later) that Ibn Al-Haytham wrote the seven-volume Book of Optics in Cairo, Egypt. It was this work that explained how it was possible to correct refractive errors with lenses.

The Invention of Glasses and Contact Lenses

While Ibn Al-Haytham’s work is credited with significant contributions to the mathematics of optics, there is little evidence that he put his theories to the test. In fact, it would be another 200 years before the first pair of eyeglasses would be invented in Italy. Since then, a number of developments made glasses increasingly effective but it wasn’t until the invention of the first successful contact lens by Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick in 1888 that “eye science” began to truly advance once more.

The contact lens revolutionised vision correction, completely doing away with external frames and their associated burdens. For this reason, contact lenses remain incredibly popular to this day, with an estimated 3.7 million contact lens wearers in the UK alone. But less than 100 years after the invention of the contact lens, eye science took a huge leap – in the form of refractive surgery.

The Introduction of Refractive Surgery

In 1948, Spanish ophthalmologist Jose Ignacio Barraquer Moner – now widely known as the Grandfather of Laser Eye Surgery – became the first person to successfully correct myopia (short-sightedness) with refractive surgery. This procedure would eventually become the basis for modern Laser Eye Surgery, which was introduced less than 40 years later in 1983.

It is amazing that the laser has only been around for around 60 years. Today, lasers are a part of everyday lives, from read/write heads in optical drives, to laser printers, optical fibre networks and, of course, Laser Eye Surgery.

The laser was a transformative technology in the 20th century and continues to enjoy wide application in many fields of human endeavour. But while Laser Eye Surgery technology may seem like the epitome of modern medicine, it is important to recognise what came before and how the discoveries of the 1st century and beyond continue to impact our modern lives.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how Laser Eye Surgery has helped many people in their modern endeavours.

Can Laser Eye Surgery Improve Your Golf Game?

In golf, the most minuscule margins impact one’s game and can be the difference between notoriety and mediocrity. These small margins make excellent vision extremely important. Countless golfers have been forced to invest in contact lenses to avoid glasses-related mishaps during their game – but modern refractive surgery offers an even better solution.

Testimonials from some of the world’s leading golfers such as Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen and others, suggest that Laser Eye Surgery can be an ideal cure, giving real improvements to one’s golf game.  Dramatic differences were exhibited on the greens, giving the ability to read the grain of the putting surface and being able to putt more successfully.  Read more about golfing and Laser Eye Surgery.

How Can Laser Eye Surgery Make Other Sports More Enjoyable?

At London Vision Clinic, we treat patients from all walks of life who enjoy a wide range of activities and passions. But we can’t help but take notice when our patients push themselves – and their eyesight – to the extremes – especially when they make a video about their experience!

This was the case with skydiver Jakob Anguiers who had ReLEx SMILE treatment with us in 2017. Just one week after his surgery, Jakob embarked on yet another skydive – but this one was different. As Jakob explains in his video, his first skydive after Laser Eye Surgery was like seeing in “ultra 4K definition” without the niggly worries about his contact lenses.

Another of our patients, Jess Goddard, was also preparing to embark on an impressive feat within weeks of her Laser Eye Surgery procedure. As Jess documents in her YouTube video, she was set to begin a 3,000-mile rowing journey from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean just 6 weeks after surgery!

Jess summed up her experience by explaining: “The surgery was invaluable to me. My eyesight is impeccable. I think without the surgery, my experience on the Atlantic would have been completely different. When I was out at sea, I didn’t think about my eyesight at all, which was an absolute blessing, and I can’t thank London Vision Clinic enough for what they’ve done for me.

If you’d like to learn more about Laser Eye Surgery could help to change your life for the better, get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators or Book a Consultation today.