One of the key scientific breakthroughs in the latter half of the 20th century, laser technology has revolutionised many areas of contemporary life, from barcode readers in supermarkets to home entertainment and the digital revolution. Perhaps no field has felt their benefit as much as that of medicine, where lasers are being increasingly employed in innovative ways.
Even when the first lasers were invented in 1960, based on Einstein’s theories of electromagnetic radiation, the technology was often viewed as “a solution looking for a problem”. It didn’t take long, however, for medical scientists to realise the significant advantages of laser technology for surgery, both for providing a more efficient and safer alternative to existing treatments and for offering a solution for conditions that previously had no treatment.
Whether being employed in cancer therapy, tattoo removal or for various types of laser eye surgery, lasers ushered in a new era for many areas of medicine. Their fine precision surpassed anything that came before, allowing surgeons to operate bloodlessly on the most delicate parts of the human body such as the corneas, with extreme surgical accuracy being permitted by increasingly efficient computer systems capable of tracking movements and making minute adjustments up to 4,000 times per second.
Laser eye surgery is among the most well-known surgical procedures employing laser technology, and has successfully provided freedom from glasses and contact lenses for millions of patients across the world since being developed into its present form in the 1990s.