Ophthalmology was the first medical specialty to adopt lasers right after their invention more than 50 years ago, and they gradually revolutionized ocular imaging, diagnostics, therapy, and surgery. Challenging precision, safety, and selectivity requirements for ocular therapeutic and surgical procedures keep advancing the laser technologies, which in turn continue enabling novel applications for the preservation and restoration of sight. Modern lasers can provide single-cell-layer selectivity in therapy, submicrometer precision in three-dimensional image-guided surgery, and nondamaging retinal therapy under optoacoustic temperature control. This article reviews the evolution of laser technologies; progress in understanding of the laser–tissue interactions; and concepts, misconceptions, and accidental discoveries that led to modern therapeutic and surgical applications of lasers in ophthalmology. It begins with a brief historical overview, followed by a description of the laser–tissue interactions and corresponding ophthalmic applications.


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