In 1961, Mani Lal Bhaumik joined the Quantum Electronics Division at Xerox Electro-Optical Systems in Pasadena and began his career as a laser scientist. Concurrently, he taught Quantum physics and Astronomy at the California State University at Long Beach. In 1968, he was enlisted by the Northrop Corporate Research Laboratory, where he rose to become the director of the Laser Technology Laboratory and led a team that made contributions in research on excimer laser technology.
Doctors began investigating corneal reshaping to correct vision in the 1800s. Understandably, the initial methods used during that time were less than sophisticated. A major breakthrough came in the early 1940s, when Colombian eye surgeon Jose Barraquer began experimenting with a microkeratome to create flaps in the corneal surface.
Refractive surgeries were performed more frequently beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, though the corrective rate was typically very poor. During the 1970s, radial keratotomy (RK) was invented in the Soviet Union and later introduced in the United States in 1978, where it was a popular procedure throughout the 1980s. RK was performed using a precisely calibrated diamond microkeratome to make the incisions necessary to reshape the cornea. While many patients who underwent this procedure experienced positive long-term outcomes, RK's major drawback was the inconsistency in vision correction from patient to patient.
The introduction of the ultraviolet excimer laser was an exciting event in the refractive surgery field. This laser allowed surgeons to precisely correct the shape of the cornea while causing no heat-related damage to the surrounding eye tissue. Improvements in technology and education eventually allowed surgeons to develop the photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) procedure in the 1980s.
In the 1990s doctors used the excimer laser to create the LASIK procedure. The LASIK name was derived from Greek ophthalmologist Ioannis Pallikaris' suggested name for the procedure. He offered the name laser in-situ keratomileusis. Keratomileusis is derived from two Greek words that together literally mean 'to shape the cornea.' In-situ means 'in place.' Therefore LASIK means to 'reshape the cornea in place using laser.'