The History of Lasik

Lasik surgery

With more than 28 million people worldwide undergoing the vision-correcting procedure, LASIK seems to be a new trend – but it has actually been around for a while.

People have been trying to correct poor vision since the dawn of time, but anyone who wears glasses knows they can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Many people use contacts to correct their vision, but these too are can be inconvenient and even painful. When LASIK came along, many viewed it as the perfect solution to poor eyesight.


LASIK is an acronym whose letters stand for “laser in situ keratomileusis.” The word “keratomileusis” literally means “sculpting of the cornea.” In situ means “left in place.” Laser refers to the fact that the procedure uses a laser to sculpt and reshape the cornea without surgery.

It is a type of corneal refractive surgery that corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.. The LASIK procedure permanently reshapes the transparent covering of your eye, known as the cornea, which focuses light as it enters your eye in a way that allows you to see sharp images.


Before LASIK, doctors would make several incisions in the cornea. That procedure, developed in 1978, is called radial keratotomy (RK). As time went on, eye surgeons noticed a fair amount of regression with RK and therefore this procedure became less popular.

In the 1980s, surgeons started using a flap method to correct vision. Surgeons perform the procedure by using a precise instrument, known as a microkeratome, to create a very thin flap in the cornea. The doctor reshapes the cornea so that it focuses light properly then reattaches the flap to the eye. Gholam A. Peyman, MD, won the patent for the procedure in 1989.

The 1980s also saw the invention of the excimer laser, originally designed to make computer chips but found to be exceptionally precise at removing tissue during surgery. Stephen L. Trokel was the first ophthalmologist to recognize the significance of the excimer laser for use in corneal refractive surgery.

Theo Seiler, MD, PhD, had performed the first excimer procedure on a human cadaver eye in 1987. Marguerite B. McDonald, MD, performed the world’s first laser procedure on a live human eye a year later. These advances showed that using the excimer laser is significantly safer and more effective than RK.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) in 1995. This procedure uses a laser to flatten the cornea to treat nearsightedness, a condition that makes it difficult to see faraway objects.

Modern LASIK goes a step beyond excimer laser and microkeratome technologies to improve vision. Today’s eye surgeons use highly specialized lasers to accomplish both steps of the procedure: create precision corneal flaps and reshape the tissue below (All – Laser LASIK). Once put back into place, the corneal flap acts as a natural bandage as your eye heals. The exclusive use of the laser ensures precise results and quick healing time, so you see more clearly faster than ever before possible.

For more information on LASIK, contact Florida Eye Specialists. Our Jacksonville LASIK specialists use the most advanced LASIK technology to improve your vision. We have five convenient Jacksonville locations to serve you. Make an appointment today.