SMILE laser treatment explained
SMILE is a minimally-invasive laser eye treatment, which is carried out to correct short-sightedness and is available for people with or without astigmatism. Astigmatism is a condition that occurs as a result of the lens or cornea not being perfectly shaped.
SMILE is a versatile procedure that can be used to treat patients with high prescriptions, dry eyes, thinner than usual corneas and those who cannot use contact lenses.
Being a minimally-invasive procedure, it’s not necessary to create a flap in the eye to carry out SMILE surgery. This means that recovery time from surgery is comparatively shorter than other types laser eye treatments, like LASIK.
How SMILE surgery is carried out
- Anaesthetic drops are used to numb the eyes during the operation
- Using a Carl Zeiss VisuMax laser, pulses are directed to the centre of the cornea, with extraordinary precision
- These pulses cause tiny bubbles to form, outlining the tissue that needs to be removed to reshape the cornea and achieve the desired outcome
- The laser then creates a tinny connecting tunnel for the surgeon to start removing tissue and reshaping the cornea
As SMILE surgery does not require the surgeon to create a flap in the eye to carry out the procedure, recovery is generally quicker than other laser eye surgery procedures. The procedure is very quick, only taking a few minutes to do, and the results are immediate. Most patients achieving an 80% improvement in their vision within a few hours and reach 100% in a few weeks (based on trials conducted on over 1,000 patients in the UK, Germany, France and Denmark).
Although recovery from SMILE surgery is quick, some people may experience blurred vision long after the procedure. There’s no need to worry as this is still normal. Follow up sessions should be arranged to check the progress of your recovery. If you’re concerned, contact your surgeon and arrange a follow up session
Benefits of SMILE laser eye surgery
- SMILE laser eye surgery takes less than 15 minutes to complete
- Fast results – up to 80% improvement in vision within a few hours
- No discomfort during the procedure thanks to the use of anaesthetic drops
- Better for the stability of the cornea
- Less risk of dry eyes
- No flap incision
- No flap complication
Who is SMILE laser eye surgery for?
SMILE is a procedure that is available to far more short-sighted people than some other laser eye treatments. If you have dry eyes, thin cornea or are intolerant to contact lenses, you may not qualify for LASIK or LASEK, but may be the ideal candidate for SMILE laser eye surgery.
A full assessment will need to be carried out by the surgeon to firstly determine whether you qualify for laser eye surgery. Secondly, if you qualify, what type of laser eye surgery is best for you.
After your SMILE surgery and recovery
Immediately after having SMILE laser surgery you may experience some blurry vision, but it should start to clear up quickly. Follow up appointments will be arranged at intervals throughout the year to monitor the condition of the eyes.
SMILE laser eye surgery risks and complications
SMILE laser eye surgery is a very safe procedure, but like most medical procedure there are some risks and complications that can occur.
- Temporary discomfort like mild irritation and light sensitivity
- Blurry vision (usually temporary)
- Dry eyes. Can be treated with eye drop and usually disappears once fully healed
- Under or over correction resulting in less than optimal sight correction
Before your procedure, your doctor will discuss potential risks and complications with you in more detail. This will help prepare you for all scenarios and set some expectations.
Things to consider before SMILE laser eye surgery
Deciding to have laser eye surgery requires a lot of careful thought and consideration. You need to really understand the reasons for choosing the procedure you want and set realistic expectations of the outcome.
Sometimes it may seem like an easy decision to take because the positives outweigh the negatives. However, it’s always important to make sure everything has been considered and your ready move on.
Here are some things you should think about:
- How long is the recovery time for your treatment?
- Do you need to take time off work?
- When will you start to see the results you expect?
- When will you fully recover and resume your usual activity?
- Are the results of the surgery permanent?
- What do you need to do to maintain the results of the procedure?
Start your search
You may or may not be ready for laser eye surgery, but it’s never too soon to reach out to a clinic or hospital, or a doctor, to start a conversation. A major part of your research into the procedure you’re looking for should include direct communication, and a consultation, with an expert. Feel free to contact multiple care providers and experts. The more information you can gather about your procedure and surgeon the better decision you’re likely to make.