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Inventor Spotlight: LASIK Inventors Samuel Blum, Rangaswamy Srinivasan, and James J. Wynne

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For National Inventors Month this May, we’re celebrating innovation and highlighting some of the country’s finest innovators by telling you more about some who have been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Samuel Blum, Rangaswamy Srinivasan, & James H. Wynne

Eye by luisar on Flickr

Eye by luisar on Flickr

Anyone who has ever longed to wake up in the morning and immediately be able to see clearly can thank Samuel Blum, Rangaswamy Srinivasan, and James J. Wynne for the possibility of LASIK eye surgery.

When Samuel Blum, Rangaswamy Srinivasan, and James J. Wynne at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center realized, through their research, that lasers could be effective surgical incision tools, they set the foundation for LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery.

As noted by the National Inventors Hall of Fame:

In LASIK, the shape of the cornea is permanently changed using the excimer laser. Adjustments can be made for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Well over two and a half million people in the United States have undergone LASIK surgery.

Before LASIK, lasers were actually used to create scar tissue when it was needed for therapeutic value, but the excimer laser made it possible to perform more delicate surgeries in which scar tissue was not required or desired.

In short, Blum, Srinivasan, and Wynne have made the lives of millions of people better through their research into laser techniques — and according to a comment by Dr. Wynne at the blog (see below), it all came about in 1981 thanks to research on “Thanksgiving leftovers, namely a sample of cartilage on a turkey bone.”

Blum is a native of New York, graduate of Rutgers University (both bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees), and also served in the United States Navy, where he became certified in meteorology and weather forecasting.

Srinivasan holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in science from the University of Madras, India, and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Southern California.

James J. Wynne comes from New York and is a graduate of Harvard University (A.B., M.A., Ph.D Physics).

Blum is retired while Srinivasan continues to consult on lasers and laser applications and Wynne works on new ways to use laser technology in dermatology.

Thank you for helping so many people see clearly again, Dr. Blum, Dr. Srinivasan, and Dr. Wynne!

* This post has been updated thanks to the comment by Dr. Wynne noting Dr. Srinivasan’s absence in the original. Our sincerest apologies to Dr. Srinivasan for this unfortunate oversight (no pun intended)!

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May 28th, 2012 at 5:51 am