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Surgical Lasers: A Cut Above

Apr 2013
Karen A. Newman, Group Publisher,

The first medical use of a laser occurred in 1961 – little more than a year after the ruby laser was demonstrated for the first time – when Dr. Charles J. Campbell of the Institute of Ophthalmology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Charles J. Koester of American Optical Co. used an American Optical ruby laser to destroy a retinal tumor in a human patient. Since then, the uptake of lasers for ophthalmic surgeries has been swift in comparison with nonophthalmic procedures.

The market continues to grow. As Senior Editor Melinda Rose reported in BioPhotonics in September 2012, “besides the aging population, other factors driving the global ophthalmic laser market, which is expected to reach $804 million by 2015, are increasing accessibility to advanced laser eye treatment; the increasing proportion of people needing vision correction, especially in Asia; and an increase in patients opting for eye surgery.” She was citing Global Industry Analysts Inc.’s ophthalmic lasers report, released that January.

To those factors we can add ongoing economic challenges as important drivers of segment growth. In this issue, contributing editor Gary Boas reports on how lasers and ophthalmology seem made for each other in his article, “Various Factors Influence Growth of Ophthalmic Lasers,” found on page 18. And in case you missed it, you can read more about the challenges brought by an aging population as the opportunities for photonics in my article, “Doing the Math: Aging World Population Demands Photonics Innovation,” from the January 2013 issue of Photonics Spectra (also available online at

Beyond the eye, surgical lasers are used for everything from mending broken hearts to treating periodontal disease to performing minimally invasive abdominal surgeries, and surgeons today have more choices in types of lasers to use.

The size, weight and reliability of fiber lasers are drawing more surgeons to use the tools for a growing list of procedures. In “Fiber Lasers at the Cutting Edge of Surgery,” contributing editor Marie Freebody writes that “even for procedures for which any other laser would have been unthinkable, surgeons are beginning to make the switch to fiber lasers.” See the feature on page 29.

Also in this issue, a group of researchers from several universities reports on a new platform for finding and killing cancer while sparing unaffected cells. Lead author Ekaterina Y. Lukianova-Hleb and a multi-institutional team report that “Plasmonic Nanobubbles Speed Detection and Destruction of Cancer” in a feature that begins on page 21.

Finally, Dr. William Henry of InfiniLED discusses a tailorable light source offering benefits for new fluorescence and life sciences applications. Read “MicroLEDs Enabling New Generation of Fluorescence Instruments,” beginning on page 25.

Enjoy the issue.

ruby laser
The optically pumped, solid-state laser that uses sapphire as the host lattice and chromium as the active ion. The emission takes place in the red portion of the spectrum.
American OpticalAmericasBasic ScienceBiophotonicsCharles J. CampbellCharles J. KoesterColumbia-Presbyterian Medical CenterEditorialEkaterina E. Lukianova-Hlebfiber lasersGary BoasindustrialInfiniLEDKaren A. Newmanlaser eye treatmentMarie Freebodymedical lasersMelinda RosemicroLEDsophthalmic lasersopthalmic laser marketplasmonic nanobubblesruby lasersurgical lasersWilliam Henrylasers

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