LASIK and other types of laser vision correction are a great option for many patients. But for some, alternative procedures may be a better fit. For those who want a minimally invasive laser procedure, SMILE surgery may be the best choice. The procedure is extremely advanced but also simple, straightforward, and even less invasive than LASIK.
What is SMILE Laser Surgery?
SMILE is an acronym for “Small Incision Lenticule Extraction.” The basic premise of the surgery is, as the name suggests, to remove a lenticule — a very small, lens-shaped section of corneal tissue — through a small incision in the eye. The lenticule is shaped and sized in such a way as to change the overall shape of the cornea and correct for a refractive error (primarily nearsightedness).
Laser surgeries like LASIK and PRK rely on shaping the cornea after making a flap or removing the outer layer of the eye. SMILE still involves reshaping the cornea, but the procedure disturbs far less corneal tissue.
How Does the Procedure Work?
SMILE surgery is often regarded as a one-step procedure. After the patient’s eyes have been numbed with eye drops, a femtosecond laser is used to create the lenticule. A femtosecond laser — which is also used in LASIK to create a corneal flap — emits extremely fast bursts of energy to precisely separate tissue and correct refractive errors without touching surrounding areas.
Once the lenticule is made, the surgeon uses the femtosecond laser to make a small incision in the cornea and the lenticule is removed. The incision is small enough that it heals quickly on its own without needing any kind of sutures.
Who Makes a Good SMILE Candidate?
While SMILE is a great option for certain people, it cannot treat all refractive errors like LASIK or PRK can. SMILE can only correct nearsightedness and a very small amount of astigmatism.
Besides this limitation, there are a few other qualifying factors for potential candidates:
- You must be at least 22 years old
- You must have a stable prescription for at least a year
- You must be nearsighted with a prescription of no more than -10.00 diopters and no more than 3.00 diopters of astigmatism
What are the Benefits of SMILE?
SMILE has several advantages:
SMILE is far less invasive than even LASIK. While LASIK isn’t a very invasive procedure, SMILE is even less so. This is because a small amount of corneal tissue needs to be removed and only a tiny incision is required to do so.
SMILE patients tend to recover faster than other laser surgery patients. Again, because the procedure only requires a small incision rather than a corneal flap, the healing process is faster and less uncomfortable.
SMILE is completely blade-free, which contributes to both the ease and speed of recovery. The surgery is also very precise — the laser is preprogrammed to target the exact right amount of tissue to both create the lenticule and the incision. This lessens the amount of human error involved in the procedure, making it even safer than other forms of laser surgery.
Most laser surgeries carry the risk of triggering Dry Eye Syndrome following surgery. With SMILE, this risk is significantly reduced. SMILE may also be a better option for patients who already struggle with Dry Eye.
LASIK surgery involves a corneal flap. While rare, patients can experience complications due to the flap. The risk of such complications is eliminated in SMILE as no flap is required. Additionally, patients with corneas that are too thin for LASIK may be able to safely have SMILE surgery.
While most SMILE LASIK patients don’t require a second procedure, healing of the human body is a variable that we cannot predict. Rest assured that Dr. McGlothan and the staff at Chicago LASIK Center are committed to helping you achieve excellent vision. Should re-treatment be needed for you to reach your visual goals, it is included in the first year.
SMILE Surgery, Chicago
Not a candidate for LASIK or PRK? SMILE surgery may be a great fit for you. Call us at (312) 955-0025 or schedule an appointment to discuss your candidacy for SMILE surgery in Chicago!