SMILE eye surgery or “Small incision lenticule extraction” uses a laser to make a small lenticule in the cornea without creating a flap. SMILE eye surgery is a new procedure developed as an alternative to the FLEX (Femtosecond Lenticule Extraction) eye surgery, an alternative for the time-tested LASIK surgery.
The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped transparent tissue on the eyeball. It plays a vital role in allowing light to enter the eye and fall on the retina, forming the image. Between the cornea and the retina is the lens, which helps with near and distant vision focus. While the lens is the more critical component for having a focussed vision, corneal imperfections are often one of the causes of imperfect/blurred vision.
People who are nearsighted or astigmatic (these individuals may have difficulty visualizing images in different planes) may potentially benefit from SMILE eye surgery. SMILE, like LASIK, is relatively painless and offers good vision almost immediately after surgery.
Are you a good candidate for SMILE?
While the procedure is relatively new, it is not the correct one for everyone with refractive issues. To decide whether you’re a good candidate for SMILE eye surgery, your eye doctor will conduct a thorough examination to determine the health of your eyes and then decide on what kind of vision correction you need.
The primary purpose of SMILE eye surgery is to reduce a candidate’s dependency on glasses or contact lenses. While it is true that the procedure may correct the vision without the further need of corrective lenses, this may not happen in all cases.
SMILE eye surgery is a relatively simple procedure. You will be able to walk into the surgery centre, have the procedure done and walk out. It takes approximately thirty minutes or less to complete the procedure. The actual exposure time to the laser is usually less than thirty seconds per eye.
Your doctor may give you a mild oral sedative to help you relax before performing the surgery. Your eyes will be “numbed” with eye drops, leading most patients to report only a slight feeling of “pressure” on the eye.
Your eyes can be operated on the same day. However, your doctor will only work on one eye at a time. Having both eyes done during the same visit can mean fewer days off work, minimal “down-time”, and a minor imbalance between the eyes. However, the choice is yours. Your vision may be “foggy” for the first several hours and improve gradually. It’s a good idea to have someone available to drive you home after your surgery.
Like any surgery, there is a recovery time. Although your vision may be sharper immediately following the surgery, your vision will continue to improve over time. It is essential to follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions, get proper rest, and call him/her immediately if you suspect a problem.
Many doctors recommend taking a couple of days off to rest. Patience and close adherence to your doctor’s post-operative instructions are essential to the healing process. It is important to remember that your eyes may change internally, either due to ageing or other factors. These internal changes may result in decreased vision that is unrelated to the cornea and your SMILE procedure.