With refractive errors being one of the most common types of vision problems affecting a large chunk of the population, corrective surgeries have, correspondingly, become one of the most common types of eye surgeries. For the last 20 years, LASIK has been the most preferred method to treat Myopia (Nearsightedness), Hyperopia (Farsightedness) and even Astigmatism. However, with the recent advancements, a bladeless laser procedure called SMILE eye surgery has been developed that is quicker, has minimum to no side effects and more plus points.
Read on for all the information about SMILE in eyes and its numerous benefits in detail to know why it is now considered the best laser eye surgery.
What exactly is SMILE in Eyes?
ReLEx SMILE (Refractive Lenticule Extraction/ Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a procedure of reshaping the cornea in order to improve visual acuity and get rid of prescription glasses or contact lenses. The entire process is bladeless and is carried out by a highly focused laser beam of a VisuMax Femtosecond laser. The Food and Drug Administration approved the procedure in 2016, and since then, it is largely being practiced in many countries. According to stats, more than 4 million have undergone the surgery and recovered with a visual improvement of about 80% to 100%.
What is the procedure?
STEP 1- To start a SMILE in the eyes, patients are given anesthetic eye drops to numb the eyes so they do not feel any pain during the process.
STEP 2- A thin, disc-shaped piece of the cornea called a ‘lenticule’ is created using a Zeiss Femtosecond laser.
STEP 3- Then, using the same laser, an arc-like slit of about 2-4mm is made on the surface of the cornea.
STEP4- The final step of the process; the surgeon will gently and very carefully extricate the layer of tissue and discard it, thus, changing the corneal curvature and correcting the irregularity.
No suturing back of the incision is needed as the cornea heals itself.
Why do patients prefer it over LASIK surgery?
- No flap- Unlike LASIK, the SMILE in eyes method does not require ophthalmologists to make a big 18 to 20mm incision in the cornea to make a flap. And because of this, a lot of potential risks like flap-dislocation, flap detachment, injuries from cutting instruments or infection can be avoided completely. Additionally, all the openings are made by a pre-programmed, highly accurate laser device, eliminating the chances of any mistakes.
- Short recovery period- With proper post-operative care, the recovery period for SMILE eye surgery can be remarkably short as a very small area is affected. As a result, many people can resume most of their daily activities from the next day itself, and on average, the entire healing process takes a maximum of only up to 5 days to one week.
- Fewer side effects- Multiple studies have proved that the chances of side effects like dry eye, redness, swelling or blackouts are reduced in SMILE as it is minimally invasive. And, since most of the corneal surface is undisturbed, its stability and strength remain intact, allowing it to mend and restore 20/20 vision.
Furthermore, SMILE eye surgery takes only about 15 to 20 minutes per eye, and then the patient can be driven back to their home for resting.