History of LASIK

Since first become available on the market more than 25 years ago, the LASIK procedure has evolved to become one of the safest elective procedures available in modern medicine. Keep reading to learn more about the history of this life-changing procedure.


Father Waclaw Szuniewicz, considered to be a pioneer in early refractive surgery, first experimented with the changing the shape of the cornea.


Professor José I. Barraquer introduced a technique he coined keratomileusis (which means “sculptured cornea” in Greek). This procedure removes, reshapes and finally inserts the corneal discs into the patient’s eye, thereby laying the groundwork for what would eventually become refractive surgery.


A team at IBM developed the very first excimer laser, a laser that emits pulses of ultraviolet light—this technology would eventually be refined and used to correct vision.


Scientists practiced the first LASIK procedure on a cow’s corneal tissue.


A German ophthalmologist revolutionized the vision care industry, becoming the first to use an excimer laser on human eyes.


Dr. Steven Trokel first introduces the photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) procedure. In the same year, he patented the first excimer laser intended exclusively for vision correction, performing the first surgery on a patient’s eyes in 1987.


American physician Dr. Gholam Peyman described a theoretical 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.


Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris from Greece discovered that by combining the two aforementioned techniques, patients could expect achieve high rates of success along with great improvement to their vision. Dr. Pallikaris called the procedure LASIK—an acronym for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.


The excimer laser to correct myopia and astigmatism was approved by Health Canada in 1990.


Dr. Stephen Slade and his colleague, Dr. Stephen Brint, performed what is now known as LASIK for the first time in the United States.


PRK is approved by the FDA; back then, the procedure was originally developed as a measure to treat myopia. But as the procedure was improved upon over the years, its capacity to correct vision grew as well, helping to treat patients who were farsighted or had astigmatism.


Newer, gentler microkeratomes (flap-creation devices) 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.


LASIK was approved by the FDA.


Femtosecond technology emerged as an alternative method of flap creation. For patients with thinner-than-average corneas, larger-than-average pupils and greater-than-average prescriptions, femtosecond lasers begun to be used in a procedure called All-Laser LASIK, removing the use of the microkeratome altogether—this is sometimes called “bladeless” LASIK.


The FDA approved the use of Customized Wavefront LASIK, the most commonly-seen type of laser vision correction today.