I have been involved with corneal refractive surgery since 1981, when as a young assistant professor and director of the Cornea Service at the University of Minnesota Department of Ophthalmology, I was invited by my friend George O. Waring III, MD, to participate as a surgeon on the so-called PERK study.
In 1988, I acquired one of the first 10 excimer lasers in the U.S. and participated in multiple clinical trials that continue to date as laser corneal refractive surgery technology evolves and improves. I continued with radial and astigmatic keratotomy, pioneering and teaching mini-RK and the ARC-T system of corneal relaxing incisions for astigmatism until 1995-1996, when the first two excimer lasers, Summit and Visx, were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. I then abandoned the mini-RK procedure for myopia in favor of laser corneal refractive surgery and limited my use of ARC-T incisions to my refractive cataract surgery practice.
While I started with PRK, I adopted microkeratome LASIK and then femtosecond LASIK early and with my associates, particularly David Hardten, MD, helped train many of America’s current corneal refractive surgeons. Minneapolis/St. Paul and the 50-mile surround are a good barometer of the LASIK market in the U.S.
We launched LASIK/PRK in our practice in 1996, and our volume of cases doubled every year, reaching a peak of just more than 7,000 eyes in 2000 with four refractive surgeons. The same occurred in the U.S. as a whole, with a peak just more than 1.4 million eyes per year in 2000/2001. In 2014, with six refractive surgeons in our group, we performed just more than 3,000 LASIK/PRK procedures, about 40% of the volume we generated more than 10 years ago.
Click here to read the publication exclusive, Lindstrom's Perspective, published in Ocular Surgery News U.S. Edition, January 25, 2015.