LASIK Turkey, Part 2 - Your Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Roxboro LASIK Surgeons

LASIK Turkey, Part 2 - Your Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Roxboro LASIK Surgeons

Last week we left off “Part 1” reporting the historic moment for LASIK at the end of last year with President Obama’s awarding an IBM team of scientists who discovered how the excimer laser could be used for vision-correction surgery. Part of that discovery included the team of researchers demonstrating the precision and scale of the excimer laser by etching “IBM” onto a strand of human hair – without burning it!

The team produced a highly magnified electron micrographic image (above) of the highly magnified single strand of human hair etched by the laser. The demonstration itself was done to show the medical community what the excimer laser could do, and the image was published around the world.

How does the Excimer Laser Work?

Instead of burning living matter, the excimer laser’s quick pulses of ultraviolet light cut into tissue by vaporization (not burning), which leaves the surrounding areas undamaged. Each laser pulse disrupts the molecular bonds in a very thin layer on the surface of the tissue, such as, in LASIK surgery, the cornea, effectively disintegrating it, leaving no observable collateral damage to the underlying or adjacent tissue.

The research team envisioned how this “clean excision” could be used for brain surgery, dentistry, orthopedics, and dermatology. But at the time, eye surgeons had been searching for an alternative to using a scalpel for a surgeryprocedure used to correct nearsightedness. A scalpel was not very precise, the surgery could leave the cornea permanently weakened, and patients required a long recovery time. The excimer laser surgery discovery couldn’t have happened at a better time for vision-correction surgery!

By 1984 the discovery had launched a worldwide program of research to develop excimer laser-based refractive surgery. Years of experimentation and clinical trials followed. In 1995, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first commercial excimer laser-based refractive surgery system, 14 years after the team’s initial experimentation.

Today LASIK eye surgery is the most popular vision-correction surgery performed worldwide and has improved the vision of approximately 25 million people. More than 90 percent of patients achieve 20/20 to 20/40 vision and are able to perform all or most of their daily activities without glasses or contact lenses. Modern improvements to the procedure enable many patients to achieve 20/15, and even 20/10, “superhuman” vision, something not achievable with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Where are they now? Of the IBM excimer laser surgery discovery team: James J. Wynne still works at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center; Rangaswamy Srinivasan and Samuel Blum have since retired.