20 Years of LASIK

The long-term results are in! 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the LASIK procedure.


  • 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the LASIK procedure.
  • LASIK was first performed in 1990 by Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris of Greece.
  • Tens of millions of people have now had LASIK worldwide.
  • Since LASIK was first performed, there have been many technological breakthroughs including eye trackers, Custom Wavefront treatment, thinner, safer flap makers, femtosecond technology, and topoguided treatments.
  • LASIK is considered the safest elective procedure in all of medicine. There has truly never been a better time to have LASIK surgery.

The LASIK procedure evolved from a combination of two older procedures: PRK (photo refractive keratectomy) and Keratomileusis.

In 1989, American physician Dr. Gholam Peyman described a theoretical new surgical method of modifying the corneal curvature of the eye.  This procedure involved cutting a flap in the cornea, pulling the flap back to expose the corneal bed and reshaping the exposed surface with an excimer laser.  In 1990, Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris of Greece discovered that by combining these two techniques, one could achieve advanced precision and increased success rates, along with reduced risks and comfortable healing.  He called the procedure LASIK, which stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.


The development and subsequent approval of LASIK as a procedure has revolutionized refractive surgery. Tens of millions of people have now had LASIK surgery worldwide. In Canada, approximately 90% of laser vision correction patients undergo LASIK, while 10% undergo PRK.  Because of LASIK’s benefits, it has become the “procedure of choice” for laser vision correction, with PRK being reserved for cases of thin or soft corneas, or for patients who participate in activities with a high risk of blunt eye trauma such as boxing.

Since LASIK was first performed in 1990, there have been many technological breakthroughs as well as safety features that have been added.  These include:

  1. Eye trackers: The first excimer lasers did not have eye trackers which allow the laser to compensate for eye movements during the surgery, thus adding an important level of assurance.
  2. Custom Wavefront treatments: Until 1998-2001, excimer lasers could not properly account for higher order aberrations (HOA’s), or the “quality of vision” that one sees when the pupil is dilated, typically at night.  Modern Custom Wavefront treatments take HOA’s into consideration. This includes the treatment of “spherical aberration”, which prevents the appearance of haloes around lights in dim light conditions, such as oncoming headlights when driving as night.
  3. Thinner, safer flap makers: Between 1997-2001, newer, gentler keratomes were designed to allow for the creation of very thin LASIK flaps and also made it possible to create flaps on corneas with fragile surfaces.
  4. Femtosecond technology: Since 2001, femtosecond lasers have evolved as an alternative method of creating flaps.  For patients with thinner-than-average corneas, larger-than-average pupils and greater-than-average prescriptions, All-Laser LASIK is sometimes used.
  5. Topoguided treatments: This fascinating development has allowed us to “fix” almost any problem due to an irregular corneal shape.  LASIK MD is the leader in the use of this technology in North America.

Canada has been an international leader in the development of these new technologies, contributing to the adoption of LASIK as a procedure that provides excellent results and an outstanding record of safety.  LASIK MD co-founders Dr. Avi Wallerstein and Dr. Mark Cohen, along with other LASIK MD surgeons were among the first surgeons in North America to use eye trackers, to perform Custom Wavefront treatments, to use “thin flap” microkeratomes, and to perform Topoguided treatments.

Over the past 20 years, LASIK technology has proven to be reliable, safe and effective. There has truly never been a better time to have LASIK surgery.

Find out which technology is offered at LASIK MD.