James J. Wynne

Dr. James J. Wynne was honored with the 2013 Russ Prize for his contribution to the technology behind groundbreaking vision correction surgery.

Photographer: Bill Truslow

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Russ Prize winner Wynne to lecture on breakthrough discovery behind LASIK surgery

Dr. James J. Wynne, recipient of the 2013 Russ Prize, will discuss his role in developing the pulsed ultraviolet excimer laser, the technology behind LASIK and PRK vision correction surgeries, on Thurs., Feb. 20, from 3:15-4:15 p.m. in Ohio University’s Baker University Center Theatre.

Wynne’s Stocker Series Lecture, presented by the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, will explain his contributions to developing and testing laser ablative photodecomposition, which led to these groundbreaking surgical procedures and improved vision for more than 25 million people.

The excimer laser's capability to etch tissue cleanly without burning was discovered by Wynne's colleague and Russ Prize co-recipient Dr. Rangaswamy Srinivasan while working at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center and was extensively tested by Srinivasan, Wynne and a third IBM colleague and Russ Prize recipient, the late Samuel E. Blum.

Srinivasan’s discovery in November 1981, when he irradiated cartilage from his leftover Thanksgiving turkey, found that the pulsed ultraviolet laser etched the cartilage cleanly and left the surrounding tissue undamaged. Srinivasan, Blum and Wynne tested the laser under controlled conditions and found that lasers at longer wavelengths left surrounding tissue burned and damaged, while the shorter wavelength laser made incisions with no thermal damage.

Wynne and Srinivasan further tested the effects of the ultraviolet excimer laser on human tissue in collaboration with cardiologists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, and dental anatomists, leading to similar results and the application of the laser to ophthalmic surgery.

The National Academy of Engineering and the Russ College honored Srinivasan, Wynne and Blum with the 2013 Russ Prize, a $500,000 award that honors a bioengineering achievement in widespread use that improves the human condition.

This lecture, part of the Stocker Lecture Series, is free and open to the public. The lecture will also be streamed live online.

For more information on the Russ Prize, visit www.ohio.edu/engineering/russ-prize.

For more information about the Russ College, visit www.ohio.edu/engineering/.