Eye surgery and the tools that are used to make it successful are now commonly known by most people. Not many medical procedures have reached such levels of popularity that they are known by the name of the tool, rather than the procedure itself. This is not the case for the innovative company, IntraLase, Corp. Almost everyone has heard of LASIK, and it all started with two doctors trying to revolutionize the eye care industry. And they did.
IntraLase, Corp. was established in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1995, by Ron Kurtz, MD, and Dr. Tibor Juhasz with the development of the femtosecond laser at the University of Michigan. This laser uses an infrared light beam to assist surgeons in preparing for and performing corneal transplants and other vision correction surgeries. The introduction of this laser paved the way for the creation of a trademarked laser for eye surgeries called IntraLASIK. Patients that take advantage of IntraLASIK often experience the permanent correction of vision, which removes the necessity of glasses or contact lenses.
In 1999, the company moved to Irvine, California and expanded to include other lasers and tools for medical use and eye surgery. The scientists and doctors behind the company continued to develop more advanced and useful lasers until IntraLase, Corp. was purchased by another eye care and medical supply company, Advanced Medical Optics, in 2007, for over $800 million — about $25 per share of publicly traded stock. This put AMO in a prime position; adding IntraLASIK to its existing repertoire of intraocular and other lenses, in addition to other medical and ophthalmic surgery supplies, allowed it to corner a huge portion of the medical supply market.
Just before Advanced Medical Optics was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in 2009, Dr. Kurtz left IntraLase to form his own laser and lens development firm, LenSx. When Abbott Labs purchased AMO and formed its new unit dedicated to eye care: Abbott Medical Optics, Inc. This acquisition furthered and ensured the success of Abbott, allowing for a breakthrough into the eye surgery market while continuing to offer diabetic testing supplies, diagnostic services and other medical industry essentials.
The overwhelming success of IntraLase, Corp., Advanced Medical Optics and Abbott Laboratories is due, in large part, to the creativity and ingenuity of two doctors in a lab at the University of Michigan. The introduction and widespread acceptance of a femtosecond laser for use in eye surgeries has led to laser vision correction being one of the most regularly performed surgeries in the country (and the world).