Thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope, LASIK eye surgery has been improved

The James Webb space telescope it started its first observing campaign only a few weeks ago, but it is already producing interesting results as well as very beautiful images (even for non-experts). For example, Earendel has been observed, the farthest known star, or a 13.4 billion-year-old galaxy that brings us closer to what happened after the Big Bang. But the JWST it has contributed to the lives of many people, even before it was launched.

jwst laser surgery

Many will know that a problem with the primary mirror was found at the Hubble Space Telescope shortly after launch in the 1990s. This fundamental element, due to a production problem, had a very slight aberration but sufficient to not make it have the expected performance. Some of the techniques developed to make the images sharper were then “transferred” to the world of medicine and in particular to mammograms allowing to identify smaller calcifications and therefore to intervene early for breast tumors. A similar, but not the same, situation also occurred in the case of James Webb space telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope and eye surgery

According to NASA, even before the JWST was launched, some of its technology was used to improve the technique LASIK for the eye surgery. In particular, the analysis system for the mirrors of the space telescope was then revised and used in the named instrument iDesign Refractive Studio made by Johnson & Johnson Vision (division of the US pharmaceutical technology company).


The ability and accuracy to make precise measurements for the patient’s eye by mapping corneal imperfections and curvature. Thanks to the diffusion of the tool it has been possible to carry out more than 18 million from LASIK procedures all over the world solving vision problems for many people.

The story was born thanks to a sub-contracting of the NASA to society WaveFront Sciences. The latter had the task of creating a system to measure the deviations in the mirrors of the James Webb space telescope during the grinding and polishing processes. After all, we didn’t want to have the same problem that happened at Hubble (also because Webb is 1.5 million km away). One man in particular, Kristian Santana (who now works at Johnson & Johnson) made it possible to achieve the desired result.


Some algorithms developed by WaveFront Sciences for the JWST they were then fed into the Complete Ophthalmic Analysis System (a commercial model). After a few years, those same algorithms ended up in the iDesign Refractive Studio which was approved by the FDA in 2018 (before the telescope was even launched). Once again, therefore, the technology used in Space has had an effective impact on people’s life (and sight).

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About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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