Evolution of Ophthalmology

Eye doctor performing surgery

Understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the eye has changed eye surgery drastically over the years. One of the first written accounts of ophthalmology dates back to 800BC, when a surgeon by the name of Sushruta described 76 eye diseases as well as many ophthalmological techniques and instruments.

Throughout the Middle Ages, physicians used hand lenses and microscopes to study the eye’s structure and function, significantly advancing the medical community’s understanding of the organ. While there are plenty of developments that shaped modern ophthalmology, there are a few that have significantly improved the field of eye health. These include:

Radial Keratotomy

Developed in 1974 by Russian ophthalmologist Svyatoslav Fyodorov, radial keratotomy is a refractive surgical procedure that’s performed to correct myopia (nearsightedness). The procedure has been largely replaced by newer operations such as photorefractive keratectomy and LASIK.

Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty

Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty, better known as ALK, was mostly performed to correct hyperopia (farsightedness). The procedure was introduced in the mid-1990s and involved the use of a microkeratome (a special bladed instrument) to cut the corneal flap. From there, the flap is folded to one side before a slice of surface tissue is removed. The removal of corneal tissue alters the way the eye bends light, as ALK alters the shape of the cornea. Scarring, loss of vision and infection were some of the risks associated with this procedure.


Laser-Assisted in-situ Epithelial Keratomolysis, better known as LASIK eye surgery, was invented in the year 1999 by Italian eye doctor Massimo Camelin. The procedure fixes eye problems such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism (a refractive error that prevents the eye from focusing light evenly on the retina). The procedure involves peeling back the epithelium until the cornea is exposed. The cornea is then reshaped with a laser before the epithelial layer is placed back.

The procedure boasts a short recovery time but is slightly uncomfortable compared to more recent procedures.


Laser-Assisted in-situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) was introduced in 1989 by Ioannis Pallikaris, a Greek doctor. However, the U.S Food and Drug Administration approved the surgery in only 1999. LASIK eye surgery involves the use of a laser to create a corneal flap and correct the way the cornea curves. Recovery is very quick, and there is usually no discomfort after the procedure.

Phakic Intraocular Lens Implantation

Phakic intraocular lenses were developed in 1992 in Russia. The procedure entails the insertion of the lenses without any tissue removal. Even though the insertion is meant to be permanent, it can be removed when needed. An eye doctor is the only person who’s qualified to tell you which surgical procedure to undergo. If your vision is giving you problems, visit an eye clinic to determine the problem and get help with a solution.