The First LASIK Surgery in the US: An Interview with Dr. Stephen Slade
- Posted on: Mar 24 2022
As staff members in a clinical practice where the FIRST doctor who did LASIK in the US works, there are several questions we have wondered about in the last several years, and we finally sat Dr. Stephen Slade down to get some answers to our questions!
We are delighted to share this insightful interview with our patients below.
- Where were you when the first LASIK procedure took place?
I did the first LASIK in the US in Houston in June of 1991, as part of an FDA trial. We were doing a different technique, but the protocol allowed us to do the LASIK technique. I had a patient that fit that requirement and so it was done. This was early in the trial, only a few of the other technique had been done. We wound up liking the LASIK method and finished the trial with LASIK.
- What was the ‘refractive surgery’ market like back then? What procedures were around and how did this compare?
The market was new but growing. Mostly what we had was RK. There really was nothing for higher myopes, nearsightedness. We were doing a variation of LASIK, without a laser, called ALK, but the results, while good, were not what we wanted.
- How did you find a patient that would be willing to do this?
Great question! I have done a lot of “firsts” beside LASIK such as implantable contact lenses, light adjustable lenses, laser cataract surgery and others. It’s funny but patients are typically eager to have the latest thing done. They understand we would never suggest something we do not believe is better.
There were not, years later I got the records from the laser company that sponsored the trial, and still have those records and charts to memorialize the event.
- Were there the same parts of the surgery like numbing drops etc., to make things comfortable?
Yes, and LASIK, like all refractive surgery, is typically free of pain. The drops numb the entire cornea in seconds, a wonderful feature of corneal surgery.
- How does it feel looking back and how far we have come with technology?
Feels great! The technology has just gotten better and better over 30 years! LASIK is now a quite refined, mature technology; faster, more accurate and easier on the patient. It is the most accurate procedure in medicine and certainly one of the safest.
- What was the hardest part of that day?
Nothing was really hard, the procedure went so well, I knew this was better!
- What was your best memory of that day?
Simply knowing I had taken a giant step and in the right direction for patients.
- Who else took part in this procedure?
Stephen Brint MD, a master surgeon, was the head of the clinical trial. He truly brought the technology to the US. A doctor in Milan, Lucio Buratto, was the first to use the older technique and LASIK in the world. Steve tried first and then I went and visited him and started doing the older technique at Steve’s office in New Orleans. Steve gave me a spot on the trial and acquired my first laser for me as well. While I did the first actual LASIK technique in Houston, it would not have happened without Dr. Steve Brint.
- Do patients who come in now ever ask you about that first LASIK?
Yes, they did for years, but now almost everyone knows about LASIK before they come in.
- What have you learned since then that you still feel holds true?
Patients first, always do what is best for them.
After this historic event in ophthalmology, Dr. Stephen Slade founded Slade & Baker Vision Center in Houston, Texas where we now have a full team of surgeons and eye care specialists with the longest, most extensive experience in LASIK surgery that can help you with your LASIK journey from beginning to end. If you have always wondered about LASIK, we encourage you to do your research and who better to trust than the first doctor in the US to perform this procedure? Please call us at 713-626-5544 to schedule a complimentary LASIK consultation with our specialists and see if you are in fact a candidate to get rid of those contact lenses and glasses!
Posted in: LASIK Surgery