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This article recounts some of the steps LASIK took to become one of the most popular procedures in the U.S. and takes a look at where the road ahead could lead.

Most of us are familiar with the Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” This article recounts some of the steps LASIK took to become one of the most popular procedures in the U.S. and takes a look at where the road ahead could lead.

LASIK’s Proven Past

Vision correction technology has come a long way in 35 years — allowing more and more people to be free of glasses and contacts. Some key dates in LASIK history include:

1978: Doctors perform the first radial keratotomy procedure in the “free world” in Detroit, Mich.

Early 1980s: Doctors at Colombia University start using an argon fluoride excimer laser instead of a knife blade to flatten the cornea and correct vision. However, doctors still need to use a blade to create the corneal flap necessary for LASIK.

2000: Clinical trials began to make the corneal flap with a femtosecond laser, completely removing steel blades from the LASIK treatment.

LASIK’s Bright Future

So what does the future hold for vision correction? Researchers are hoping someday to use eye drops to change refractive errors, completely eliminating lasers from the procedure. Then, different eye drops will be used to halt the progress and maintain vision at the desired result. While this sounds exciting, it could take years or decades before this technology is publically available, if it is successfully developed at all. Other technology currently in development includes corneal inlays to help correct presbyopia.

Methods of vision correction will surely evolve, just as cars will run more efficiently, air travel will be faster and medical technology will advance. The question is: How long do you want to wait to be able to see without prosthetic devices such as glasses and contact lenses? The timeline on these future advances is not defined. Perhaps now is the time to change your life and enjoy better vision. The safety and accuracy of the current LASIK procedure have never been better.

Another Chinese proverb says, “To know the road ahead, ask someone coming back.” Ask friends what their LASIK experience was like. Ask three questions: “Are you glad you did it?” “Is your vision better than it was before the procedure?” “Would you do it again?” Then make your own decision.

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