“Suction on.” The disembodied voice sounded like a spaceship computer. The surgical suite looked like interior of the Starship Laserprise. I was under the Visumax laser, about to have the very first SMILE procedure for astigmatism in Michigan. I couldn’t wait.
Traditional Lasik is great for some people, but I knew I would be giving up too much if I wanted to protect the flap the procedure would create. That left me with Lasek (or PRK) as an option. That’s also great for some people who don’t want to worry about a flap. It does, however, offer some downsides that I wasn’t super keen on. Fluctuating vision can occur with PRK, and the first three days are a bit uncomfortable. While your results at the end of the month are the same no matter what procedure you have, I wanted minimum risk and maximum reward.
I knew going in to the procedure that SMILE is different from other types of laser vision correction. I wouldn’t see crystal clear results from the moment I woke up the next morning, like I might with traditional Lasik, but I also wouldn’t have to give up the things I love for the short-term payoff. For one thing, I wouldn’t have to worry about having a flap. I’m a reasonably athletic person, and I didn’t want to give up my aerial yoga class the Sunday after. I didn’t want to stop training circus arts or rock climbing, or rule out the possibility of learning krav maga before I turn 30.
I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted faster recovery, no flap, and no dryness. I wanted SMILE. But… It just wasn’t ready yet. And then, it was approved.
The minute that Dr. Haddad said he was ready to do a SMILE procedure on a patient with astigmatism, I knew I wanted to be first. I knew that my vision wouldn’t be crisp and clear the next day, but that I would have a much more relaxed recovery than I would with any other procedure. I would be back in the gym within a couple days, back at work typing this within less than 36 hours, and my vision would be improving hour by hour. Waiting for SMILE to be approved on patients with astigmatism was the best decision I’ve ever made for my eyes.
I think that the important thing to know going in is that your expectations set the tone for your recovery. I knew I didn’t want to go with a flap, and I knew that I wanted to see clearly, even if that means my recovery takes a few days. I’m so glad I waited for SMILE’s approval for astigmatism, because it’s a great fit for my eyes and my lifestyle. I’m already driving, and tomorrow I’ll be swinging from a trapeze without a care in the world. My eyes are still healing (I only had my procedure 48 hours ago!), but watching my vision improve in real time is amazing!