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History of Laser Vision Correction

Until the mid-1980s, vision correction was mainly done by glasses and contact lenses. As you probably know, the main disadvantage of glasses and contact lenses is that they address the symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself.

During the mid-1980s laser vision correctionLaser vision correction is a technique that has the ability to permanently correct refractive errors of the cornea by means of a laser treatment. Several types of laser vision correction treatments are available. See Laser Vision – Introduction to Laser Vision Correction. was introduced. The principle on which it worked was quite revolutionary: Instead of treating the symptoms of poor vision, the laser aimed to permanently correct an incorrectly-curved corneaThe cornea is the clear, transparent 'front window' of the eye through which light enters the eye. It handles about two-thirds of the focusing power of the eye and is critical for good vision. See Info on Eyes – Anatomy. to restore vision. The result was that patients could get rid of glasses or contact lenses. This approach changed the landscape of vision correction dramatically and since then, more than 20-million eyes worldwide have been corrected by laser.

The eye laser treatments went though several developmental phases.

The first iteration reshaped the corneal curvature. If an eye was fairly uniformly curved, it worked well. However, if a cornea had an unevenly-shaped surface, it merely reshaped the uneven curvature. Although the treatment improved vision in most cases, it did not correct a possible underlying uneven shape of a cornea. This was largely a 'one-size-fits-all' approach.

The second iteration tried to identify any possible deviations in the corneal curvature by measuring several points on the cornea, whether the surface of the cornea was even or uneven. The laser then reshaped the cornea into a more even curvature, which resulted in a much improved correction.

The third iteration was introduced fairly recently and is being used at Optimed. A highly accurate wavefront analyser measures the actual deviation on 800 individual points on a cornea. Complex software algorithms then calculate the exact amout of tissue that has to be removed at each of those 800 points and passes this information to the laser, which then applies the precise correction to each of those points. The result is a permanent and fully-customized correction for each eye. With this state-of-the-art technology, the days of 'one-size-fits-all' are forever gone!

Many different variations of laser treatment have been developed, each with its unique characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. Examples that are described in this website include PRKPRK is one of the laser treatment options to restore vision by permanently reshaping the cornea with an Excimer Laser. See Laser Vision – PRK., LasikLasik is one of several types of laser treatments to permanently correct refractive errors of the eye. See Laser Vision – Introduction to Laser Treatment., SmileSmile is the latest and most modern laser technique to restore vision by permanently reshaping the cornea with a femtosecond laser. See Laser Vision – RELEx - Smile. and variations on each of those themes. Since many different variables enter the equation, the procedure chosen for each eye will only be decided after a thorough examination.

Having corrected more than 10,000 eyes with laser treatments, Dr Potgieter is uniquely qualified to recommend and perform the procedure that will give you the best possible outcome for your particular set of circumstances.