The third generation in laser vision correction, SMILE (SMall Incision Lenticule Extraction) is an innovative flapless and minimally invasive procedure that uses a femtosecond laser to treat short-sighted patients, often even those with very high prescriptions, astigmatism, thin corneas, dry eyes or contact lens intolerance. This groundbreaking procedure is available in Canada at industry leader the Herzig Eye Institute.
Ophthalmology has seen many technological changes over the last 30 years, especially in the field of laser vision correction. From PRK to LASIK, from microkeratome flaps to laser flaps, software and hardware improvements have resulted in safer, more accurate results for patients. SMILE is the next generation and a new way of thinking about laser vision correction.
Traditional laser correction procedures such as PRK and LASIK are not recommended for the treatment of severe short-sightedness or for patients who have severely dry eyes, rendering a number of patients ineligible for these procedures. SMILE combines the advantages of PRK and LASIK to correct refractive errors with a minimally invasive, flapless procedure where a lenticule is created inside the intact cornea and extracted in one piece through a micro incision using the Carl Zeiss VisuMax femtosecond laser. Because there is no flap, there are no flap-related complications.
With SMILE, the patient’s vision is treated in a single step with the VisuMax femtosecond laser allowing the biomechanical stability of the vital upper layers of the cornea to remain largely intact. For the patient, this means a gentle, minimally invasive operation with immediate results. The predictability of the results is particularly beneficial with high refraction values up to -10 diopters.
Additionally, there are improved safety benefits of SMILE. Many patients after laser vision correction suffer with prolonged dry eye symptoms. Because SMILE does not disturb the surface of the cornea except for a small peripheral 2mm incision, sparing the corneal nerve plexus, there is very little risk of dry eye.
Recently approved by Health Canada, SMILE has successfully been performed on over 500,000 patients worldwide, excluding the United States where it is currently undergoing clinical trials and won’t be available for another couple of years.