Did you know that Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, or that these incredible beams of light have many medical applications these days? They can help the visually impaired through microscopically accurate surgery, help anyone with an unsightly birthmark, being used to remove it painlessly, and many doctorsbelieve that laser-based treatment could also revolutionize cancer care.
Lasers, basically, are concentrated light beams going in a particular direction, distinct from usual sources of light in that light waves of the laser all travel in harmony, normally being of only one wavelength or colour, a billion times more powerful, capable of so many different things, and quietly transforming many lives with their versatility and usefulness, which seems limitless
First man to promote the medical use of lasers, in 1961, was Theodor Maiman, who applied the device an American hospital medical procedure, a ruby laser used to destroy an cancerous eye tumor. This was, at the time a real revolution in treatment,
today used in dozens medical of disciplines, from dermatology and dentistry to neurosurgery and cardiology, the lasers able to deliver high precision treatments, without invasive surgery ever being needed.
In the nowadays common laser eye surgery, doctors permanently change the shapes of corneas, 100,000 or more of such operations now happening annually in the UK, as well as the regular use of lasers to remove tattoos and birthmarks, the light beams breaking down the protective barrier of tattoo pigment or mark, allowing natural body defenses to remove it.
Over 20 years have passed since cancer of some kinds began to be treated with lasers. So-named Photodynamic therapy uses drugs, making the cancer cells more light sensitive, so that lasers directed at the cancer activate the drug, destroying cancer cells,
used on skin cancers mainly, but also used in brain cancer treatment, especially useful because there are no nasty side-effects.
Lasers are also now proving their worth in early diagnosis of potential disease shining laser light at areas of the body to see what reactions emerge, a new technique called
raman spectroscopy, which gives the doctors more information about abnormal cells, reducing treatment time and costs. Another aspect of new diagnostics is laser imaging, giving the medics information about how diseases develop and how cells react to disease,.
Individual molecules are dyed then illuminated by lasers, which could in time lead to the utopian ideal of tailoring drugs to a particular individual’s needs. So versatile are these amazing light beams that science has now developed, laser tweezers, made up of two laser beams, allowing medical experts to isolate individual cells, and capable of holding and moving microscopic particles. Lasers, it seems certain, will be a vital medical tool for the future, improving our ability to heal continuously. What wonderful technology.