The first Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) surgery was recently performed in Michigan by Dr. Daniel Haddad, founder and medical director of Laser Eye Institute in Troy. SMILE surgery is a new form of laser vision correction that provides for a quicker recovery, less discomfort, and may be a better alternative than Laser Assisted Stromal In-situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) for some patients.
LASIK is a procedure used to correct vision for those who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism, and reduces a patient’s need for glasses or contacts by reshaping the surface of the eye by using a laser. To aid in the healing process, a thin flap is created and lifted during the LASIK procedure, and placed back down, similar to how a bandage covers a wound.
The new SMILE procedure takes place below the surface of the eye, allowing the surgeon to reshape the eye by creating a lenticule, a small disk-like sliver, and then removing it with a small side cut. Utilizing this method for vision correction negates the flap used in LASIK, which results in less weakening of the cornea and allows for faster recovery and less dry eye, Haddad says.
“Laser vision correction surgery continues to evolve. This new SMILE procedure has proven to be very effective for patients in other countries and now local patients have access to this minimally invasive procedure,” says Haddad. “The abbreviated recovery period and ability for patients to quickly resume daily activities will impact everyone from athletes, police and firefighters, military personnel to the average person.”
To date, more than 700,000 SMILE procedures have been performed outside the U.S., and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the procedure in September 2016, and SMILE surgery became commercially available this month.
LASIK is expected to remain the prominent form of vision correction because the SMILE surgery is currently not effective for patients with astigmatism or farsightedness. Dr. Haddad adds that 20 percent to 30 percent of patients are “solid candidates” for SMILE, but that the technology will continue to evolve over time.
Those interested in the SMILE procedure can find out if they are a candidate here.