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SMILE® is the latest development in laser vision correction and stands for small incision lenticule extraction. The lenticule refers to a thin flying saucer shaped area of tissue which is created within the cornea exclusively using the Visumax® femtosecond laser taking around 25 seconds. The shape of the lenticule corresponds to the visual correction of the eye being treated.
SMILE® can be used to correct myopia (short-sight) and astigmatism within certain limits and combines the advantages of enhanced corneal stability and reduced impact on dry eye offered by advanced surface ablation or LASEK with the rapid visual recovery and post-procedure comfort offered by LASIK. As such, it has become the fastest growing laser vision correction procedure globally although it has a long track record of safety dating back a decade.
SMILE® is particularly useful for treating higher corrections and because no flap is created, there is no risk of trauma-related flap complications so it is ideal for those involved with contact sports but also ideal for lifestyle choices ranging from an early resumption of exercise or swimming to wearing/removing eye make-up.
The Visumax by Carl Zeiss is the latest technology used exclusively for this procedure.
On the day you come into the clinic we will run through the procedure with you so that you will be reassured about the steps. Allow 2-3 hours to be at the hospital so that you have plenty of time. Like LASIK and ASA, SMILE® is painless and takes around 5-10 minutes per eye to complete, you will be in the laser room itself for around 20-30 minutes and will have a nurse with you throughout.
We will apply drops to numb your eyes and cover the eye that is not being treated. A small device is used to prevent the eye being treated from blinking although it will feel to you as if you are blinking normally. The Visumax® femtosecond laser will dock and you will feel gentle pressure but no pain because the Visumax® uses a curved surface to mirror the shape of your cornea. For this reason, it is the gentlest of all femtosecond lasers and you will be able to see a green flashing light during treatment to hold your gaze. Creation of the lenticule takes around 25 seconds, this will then be gently freed and removed through a tiny entry port between 2-4mm followed by eyedrops. The procedure is then repeated if both eyes are to be treated.
After surgery, you will rest for a short period and be provided with refreshments before going home. Your eyes will feel slightly gritty and will be sensitive to light so we recommend that you bring (non-prescription) sunglasses with you. We will provide you with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to use as well as a reminder of your does and don’t instructions and also some comfortable eye protection to wear overnight. We ask you to be careful not to rub or touch your eyes and to avoid showering or getting tap water into your eyes for the next few days.
You will be able to see immediately after treatment is completed and you sit up although your vision will be blurry. You can then expect to see continual improvement in your vision over the first day or two although your vision will fluctuate which is normal. Your vision will then continue to improve and stabilize over the next weeks.
We suggest that you arrange transport home from the hospital. You may experience mild discomfort but there should be no pain. After this point you should notice your vision improve quickly and can get back to your normal routine. We will ask you to start using your eyedrops later on the day of your procedure. If your eyes feel dry or gritty we advise you to use plenty of the artificial tears we will provide you with to keep them well lubricated, particularly if you are using screens.
We will invite you back for a check-up within the next 48 hours and then again at intervals thereafter, typically 1-2 weeks then at 3 months and 1 year. You can return to normal activities such as exercise and swimming after a week but we can advise you specifically about any activity you wish to resume.
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