Tracing the Evolution of Refractive Surgeries!
Refractive surgical procedures have helped more than a million people worldwide to see better. There’s no doubt that refractive procedures have come a long way from giving independence from glasses to now redefining the quality of vision. The procedures are faster, painless, and more accurate. And all the credit goes to the technological advancement and the research behind it.
With all these technologies at our disposal to correct refractive errors, have you ever wondered how it all came to be? In this article, we get to know about the history behind refractive surgeries: how it all started, various stages of development, and the current technology in use to correct refractive errors in eyes.
First Refractive Surgeries – 1948
The first instance of refractive surgery was recorded in 1948 by a polish missionary and ophthalmologist, Father Waclaw Szuniewicz. These surgeries were carried out to cure Astigmatism (a condition that reduces the sharpness of sight both at distance and near). While he initially helped people with refractive errors from 1931 to 1949 in Shuntehfu, China, he later joined Yale University in 1949 to continue refractive surgery.
New Developments in Refractive Surgery – 1964
Later, a Spanish opthalmologist, Dr José Ignacio Barraquer Moner, made enormous contributions to the world of ophthalmology. It was him who gave the concept that, by reshaping the cornea, refractive errors can be tackled. Without his research paper that was published in 1964, the development of PRK procedures and LASIK procedures wouldn’t have been possible. His other important contributions include 19 surgical techniques, 45 new surgical instruments, and 268 articles.
Radial Keratotomy – 1973
Another groundbreaking procedure that revolutionized the world of refractive surgery was introduced by Dr Svyatoslov Fyodorov in 1973. Fyodorov was a Russian ophthalmologist treating a Myopic (near-sighted) boy who had accidentally shattered his eyeglasses and lodged the glass fragments into his eyes. He noticed that those fragments made minute radial cuts in the cornea (the transparent dome at the front of the eye), when the scars healed it led to reduction of his refractive error and an improvement in vision.
Later, Fyodorov perfected the procedure to correct Myopia, and the procedure came to be known as Radial Keratotomy or RK.
Photorefractive Keratectomy – 1988
The first laser-based refractive surgery, known as PRK or Photorefractive Keratectomy, was carried out in 1988 by a team led by Dr Steven Trokel. For this procedure, the Excimer laser was put to use. Excimer was originally used to manufacture micro-electric chips. With improvements and modifications made for over a decade, Excimer was ready to be used on human eyes. PRK got approval from the FDA in 1995.
LASIK – 1991
LASIK, or Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, was first performed in the US by Dr Slade and Dr Brint in 1991. Although in this procedure Excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea just like PRK, but first, a corneal flap is created which is then replaced after reshaping the cornea leading to a quick recovery and excellent outcome.
Apart from these major milestones in the history of Ophthalmology or, in this case, refractive surgeries, many new and advanced technologies have emerged that assist doctors with fast and precise refractive error correction. Some of these technologies include Eye Tracking, Wavefront-guided surgery, Femtosecond laser, Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE), and more.
If you are interested in refractive error correction for your eyes, schedule a free appointment with us at Planet LASIK.