Ancient Greeks and Romans noticed that a glass ball filled with water magnifies objects. Such balls were used as magnifying glass. Before spectacles were invented they used polished crystals or glass pieces as devices improving vision.
The first spectacles hardly resemble the ones we use now. They were just round lenses fit in a frame. Inventors had not been able to find a way to fix the spectacles near eyes. There were lorgnettes, monocles, some even fastened lenses to hats. It took almost 500 years to find a way to sit the framed lenses on the nose with the support of earpieces.
But they always had a wish to do away with the problem of bad eyesight rather just correct the refractive problems. As early as in 1869 Dr. Snell published a couple of works on astigmatism correction through a surgery on the eye cornea.
In 1898 ophthalmologists Bates (America) and Lans (Holland), basing on their clinical experience, described such surgery techniques when the radial incision cicatrix modifies the corneal curvature radius.
In 1939 Dr. Sato (Japan) performed the first “radial keratotomy” surgeries. The surgeon was making deep radial notches on the eye cornea using a special blade. When the tissue adhered the cicatrices reduced corneal curvature and improved nearsightedness. However often corneal opacification and other dangerous complications, as well as low accuracy of vision correction combined with low stability of results slowed down the technique development for tree decades.
In 1949 Colombian Dr. Barraquer suggested to correct vision by affecting the inner corneal layers, but the ideal instrument for this approach appeared only 27 years later.
In 1963 an American scientist James Keck put forward the idea of the Excimer laser based on slow electron excitation in inert gas and halogen mixture.
1970 Basov, Danilychev and Popov built the first Excimer laser at Lebedev’s Physics Institute in Moscow. They used bi-xenon (xenon dimer) in their research and received a 172 mm light wave.
In 1972 professor Svyatoslac Fyodorov assisted by his colleagues from the Moscow Clinical Surgery University perfected the radial keratotomy method and started using it for myopia treatment. He developed special diamond blades improving technology by a great extent. It is him who is considered to be the creator of the contemporary refractive treatment technology. The method became a breakthrough in modern refractive surgery. Millions of people in the USSR had vision corrected thanks for the technique.
1976 - Excimer laser was used by IBM Corporation in computer micro-chip manufacturing.
1979 - Ophthalmologist John Taboada started research in Excimer laser impact on animal eye cornea at Air Military Base in San-Antonio (Texas, USA).
1980-1983 - Samuel Blum accompanied by R.Srinivasan and J.Wynne explored the effect of Excimer lasers on biological material. It was thanks to them that it was established that lasers create a clean and accurate incision, ideal for high precision surgery.
1981 - American doctors Taboada, Mikesell and Reed made first experiments on corneal surface treatment using an Excimer laser.
1983 - Dr. Stephen Trokel demonstrated that an Excimer laser beam can alter a surface shape without thermal damage.
1984 - Dr. Olivia Serdarevic conducted numerous trials on rabbits and monkeys altering corneal shape using an Excimer laser.
1985 - First Excimer PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) laser correction was performed in Berlin by Dr. Theo Seiler and Dr. Gregor Wollensak. The core of the method is micro-evaporation of the corneal surface tissue under Excimer laser beam exposure. Dr. Theo Seiler presented to the German Ophthalmological Society his patients who had vision correction using the Excimer Laser PRK. The impressive results showing the prospects of Excimer lasers for myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism correction were admired by many ophthalmologists all over the world.
1987 - First patients in Europe and America recovered good eyesight through Excimer laser correction (PRK).
1989 - Ophthalmologist Lucio Buratto performed the first LASIK (Laser Assisted In-situ Keratomileusis) Excimer laser vision correction. The essence of the technique is that Excimer beam affects the inner corneal layers, practically without any heat build-up, keeping Bowman’s membrane and corneal epithelial layer intact. The advantages of LASIK are fast vision recovery (2-3 hours), high correction accuracy, total procedure reliability and stable outcomes.
1989 - Dr. Ruiz started to correct nearsightedness using ALK (Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty), the procedure is performed by slicing two corneal discs, the inner disc is removed and the outer one is returned back.
1990 - First patients in Europe and America had their vision restored using LASIK Excimer laser correction. At present over a million people in the world go for a LASIK procedure for vision recovery annually.
1991 - Dr. Ioannis Pallikaris on the Crete introduced several improvements into LASIK Excimer laser correction technique
1994 - NIDEK Corporation from Japan, established in 1985 released their famous NIDEK EC-5000 Excimer Laser using “scanning slit” principle. This is still the most popular Excimer laser in the world, over 400 units still operate in 32 countries across the globe. The special feature of NIDEK EC-5000 is that it can be constantly upgraded through replacement of functional elements and software upgrade.
1995 - “Flying-Spot” Excimer lasers were introduced. Such laser types could be used for treatment of irregular astigmatism, which was supposed to be incurable before. The most popular laser system VISX Star S from VISX has amazing characteristics for laser correction procedures and provides very high protection and safety.
1999 - Start of large-scale use of LASEK (Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis). The technique is attributed to an Italian ophthalmologist Massimo Camelin as a founder. This method is an upgrade of PRK, it allows reducing soreness after the laser correction and shortening recovery period.
2003 - Epi-LASIK (Surface Laser Keratomileusis) was started. This method was developed by Ioannis Pollikaris (Greece). It is based on LASEK but no alcohol is used, they use a special epi-keratome that shoves the upper epithelial cell layer keeping the Bowman’s membrane intact. This procedure is widely used in patients with thin cornea.
Recently another vision laser correction technique has been introduced, called Intra-LASIK. The first clinical use of the procedure was in 2003. In Intra-LASIK the corneal flap is created by a Femto-second laser, rather than a mechanical microkeratome charged with a steel blade. It is also called All Laser LASIK.
From the end of 80s Excimer laser correction has been rapidly spreading all round the world and now it is successfully used in over 500 laser correction centres. Topresent over 5 million people in 54 countries has chosen Excimer laser correction as the most effective and reliable way of vision recovery.
Modern ophthalmology keeps developing. Every year vision correction techniques are improved and renewed. Creating new prospects for patients with various problems to be able to improve their vision and get best possible results.