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The Turkey That Helped Invent LASIK

Dr. Thomas Turkey invented the LASIK surgery.

Okay, not true – but if it wasn’t for turkey, you’d still be wearing glasses!


Turkeys are some interesting birds. No one seems to care too much about them until one day in November. For the rest of the year, they seemingly fly under the radar (ironically, since the turkeys we serve up don’t really do too much flying). Nevertheless, they have a pretty bad rap. A nefarious animal to say the least, but without these birds, you’d still be wearing those 2 for $99 frames from a big-box store and playing sports with goggles!


You see, without the turkey, there might have never been this thing we call LASIK.

According to Slate.com, it was a Thanksgiving meal that helped inspire researchers at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) to use turkey bones as a suitable test subject for their new laser technology. This was an unprecedented technological breakthrough, and the idea of using a laser to cut tissue on the eye was both concerning and intriguing, and testing was a must before anyone was going to be able to move forward with the project. But what kind of material mimics the delicate tissue in the human eye?

Ground beef? Too rough. Butterfly wings or goldfish tails? Too delicate. The team at IBM headed their separate ways for Thanksgiving break and had no direction as to how they would test the lasers.

Then, a member of the team sat down at the Thanksgiving table and met Tom Turkey. Dr. Rangaswamy “Sri” Srinivasan looked at a piece of turkey bone with some cartilage hanging from it, and he decided that it might be the perfect material to test the new laser technology on. 


The turkey test showed that the target area could be cut with the laser without damaging surrounding tissue, and that was all the team needed to conduct human testing.


Cadavers were the next step, followed by living subjects. Before long, the team perfected the initial LASIK laser technology and the sacrifice of yet another Thanksgiving turkey resulted in a technological breakthrough that ironically made turkey hunting easier than ever before in the history of mankind. 

This Thanksgiving, give a little nod of recognition to that noble, misunderstood bird on your table. If you can see him without your glasses on, thanks to LASIK, salute his sacrifice! And, if you are still bespectacled this holiday season, honor his sacrifice by booking a consultation with the doctors at LASIK Vision Centers of Cleveland to see if LASIK is right for you!

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