Story highlights

Marguerite McDonald performed the world's first laser vision correction surgery

She also conducted the first custom laser surgeries in the United States

Several pharmaceutical and medical device companies also use McDonald as a consultant

(CNN) —  

Dr. Marguerite McDonald has a clear vision for helping people see better.

Throughout her career, McDonald, an ophthalmologist at Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island (New York), has performed several pioneering eye surgeries.

In 1987, she performed the world’s first excimer laser treatment, a procedure that eliminates or reduces the need for contact lenses. She used this technique in 1993 – for the first time anywhere – to treat farsightedness. An excimer laser is a type of laser used in eye surgeries.

McDonald was also the third physician in the world to perform a procedure called conductive keratoplasty – a noninvasive surgery for farsightedness that involves using radio-frequency energy to heat small spots around the cornea. She served as the medical monitor of clinical trials of the procedure in the United States, which led to Food and Drug Administration approval.

In addition, McDonald conducted the first wavefront-based laser surgeries in the United States. Wavefront technology allows doctors to customize surgeries for individual patients.

You don’t know them, but these innovators may have changed your life

In September 2003, she was the first in North America to perform Epi-LASIK – a relatively new procedure that may avoid some of the risks associated with LASIK – in September 2003.

“Along with being noted for performing the first laser vision correction procedure… (McDonald) takes an active role in advancing women’s careers through mentoring,” Jan Beiting, president of Ophthalmic Women Leaders, said in a statement. “She is a trailblazer in every way.”

Ophthalmic Women Leaders announced in 2012 that she had won the organization’s Visionary Woman Award.

McDonald served as the director of the Southern Vision Institute in New Orleans from 1993 to 2005.

Today, she is a clinical professor of ophthalmology at NYU School of Medicine, and an adjunct clinical professor of ophthalmology at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Several pharmaceutical and medical device companies also use McDonald as a consultant.

Mom’s death inspires doctor’s life’s work

CNN’s Edythe McNamee contributed to this report.