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History of Refractive Surgery

Ophthalmic surgeons have been performing refractive surgery for the treatment of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (irregular shaped cornea) for many years, but the past decades have produced rapid change and growth by means of refined techniques and the emergence of laser vision surgery.

In the 1970's a refractive procedure called Radial Keratotomy (RK) was developed in Russia and later introduced to the USA. RK involved making a number of cuts in the cornea to change its shape and correct refractive errors. Following the introduction of RK, doctors routinely corrected nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism using various applications of incisions on the cornea.

In the 1980s a new type of laser called the excimer laser was developed. Ophthalmologists began using the excimer laser successfully in refractive surgery techniques to remove very precise amounts of tissue from the eye's surface.

The first generation lasers were called 'broad beam lasers'. The results were satisfactory and still today a small number are used. Later, scanning lasers were developed where a small spot or strip of laser beam rapidly scans the cornea.

Nearly all lasers used today are this type and we believe that there are significant advantages of flying spot lasers like the Bausch and Lomb TechnolasTM 217 and Wavelight Allegretto used by Laser Sight. Excimer lasers have revolutionised refractive surgery by providing a degree of safety and precision previously unattainable with other techniques.

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