The first Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) surgery was performed in Michigan today, by Dr. Daniel Haddad, founder and medical director of Laser Eye Institute. SMILE surgery is a new form of laser vision correction that affords a quicker recovery, less discomfort and may be a better alternative than LASIK for some patients.
LASIK, which stands Laser Assisted Stromal In-situ Keratomileusis, is surgery used to correct vision in people who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism. LASIK reduces a patient’s need for glasses or contact lenses by reshaping the surface of the eye using a laser. To aid in the healing process of LASIK surgery, a thin flap is created, lifted during the procedure, and placed back down (like a Band-Aid®).
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 the lenticule with a small side cut. Utilizing this method to correct vision, there is no flap which results in less weakening of the cornea, and allows patients to heal quicker, feel less discomfort (dry eyes) and resume physical activity much sooner.
To date, more than 700,000 SMILE procedures have been performed outside the U.S. In September 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the procedure in the U.S. SMILE surgery became commercially available in March.
“Laser vision correction surgery continues to evolve, and this new SMILE procedure has proven to be very effective for patients in other countries. Local patients now have access to this minimally invasive procedure,” said Dr. 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,” he said.
For the time being, LASIK surgery will continue as the prominent form of vision correction surgery as the SMILE procedure currently is not effective for those with astigmatism or far sightedness. “Approximately 20-30 percent of patients are solid candidates for SMILE surgery, but like any technology this will increase over time,” Dr. Haddad said.
Those interested in the SMILE procedure should visit www.lasereyeinstitute.com/smile to find out if they are a candidate for this new procedure.
Originally published March 22, 2017