Sharper Images

Ophthalmology chair and BME professor is a pioneer in laser eye surgery

Hindsight, unlike many people's vision, is always 20/20. Laser eye surgery has become so common, it's easy to forget that just three decades ago a promising new treatment was greeted with skepticism and even fear.

"When the ultrashort pulse laser came along, we were excited that it was a more controlled, delicate way of cutting eye membranes and tissue. But the concept met with resistance," says UC Irvine ophthalmologist Dr. Roger Steinert. "Some critics said, 'That's just going to burn the retina.' They didn't understand that the mechanism of action was entirely different than the original lasers that worked by heating tissue, not cutting it."

Steinert, chair of ophthalmology and director of UCI's Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, is a pioneer in LASIK and excimer laser refractive surgery, developing techniques that have allowed millions to throw away their glasses and contact lenses — "crutches for the eyes," he calls them. He was one of the first to demonstrate that lasers could safely sculpt eyes and cure common vision problems such as myopia and astigmatism.

Sharper Images [UC Irvine ZotZine]