Excerpting his National Inventors Hall of Fame biography: "Samuel Blum was working with Rangaswamy Srinivasan and James Wynne at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center when they observed the effect of the ultraviolet excimer laser on biological materials.
Intrigued, they investigated further, finding that the laser made clean, precise cuts that would be ideal for delicate surgeries. The laser technique they researched went on to become the foundation for LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery.
In LASIK, the shape of the cornea is permanently changed using the excimer laser. Adjustments can be made for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Well over two and a half million people in the United States have undergone LASIK surgery."
As noted in the rest of the piece, Blum got his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Rutgers. He was a meteorologist in the Navy during WWII. He worked on semi-conductor compounds before laser work.
Blum gave a long interview about his life to historians of his Jewish college fraternity. He put himself through school in a way familiar to Jewish guys of his generation--he waited tables in the Catskill resorts.