What Is Smile Laser Eye Surgery?

15 October 2019

Author: Alex

What Is Smile Laser Eye Surgery?

What is SMILE Eye Surgery?

SMILE eye surgery stands for Small Incision Lenticules Extraction and is the new form of laser eye surgery on the block. SMILE works to correct myopia (short-sightedness) and is gathering much attention for being considered to be a much less invasive treatment compared to other laser eye treatments such as LASEK.

How Does SMILE Eye Surgery Work?

The surgeon uses a Femtosecond Laser to create a small incision in the cornea, and proceeds to reshape the cornea by removing a tiny amount of corneal tissue to achieve clear vision.

In order to see clearly, light must be able to travel through your cornea and lens to then refract light rays to reach your retina correctly. For someone who has a refractive error such as myopia or hyperopia, it usually indicates that light isn’t reaching the retina accurately, and this will result in blurry vision. This is why people look towards vision correction treatments such as SMILE to help correct their sight by altering where the light bends to.

Another benefit to a SMILE procedure is that it does not require a flap to be created to access the cornea. This reduces the risk of complications occurring after the procedure.



LASIK (Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis), involves creating a corneal flap using the Intralase™ method. The surgeon will then programme the laser to reshape the cornea to match your prescription.

Like SMILE, LASIK recovery time is within 48 hours and you should be able to see clearly in this time, without the help of glasses or contact lenses. Yet there are a number of reasons why SMILE and LASIK are so different. One being that SMILE is a one-laser procedure, whereas LASIK requires two lasers to perform treatment. With SMILE, only requires a small incision to be made. To perform LASIK, a flap is created by one laser and treated with another.

SMILE Suitability

SMILE is best suited to those who suffer from short-sightedness (myopia) and with a prescription between -0.5 D to -10 D and astigmatism of up to -5.

Other aspect which would make you an ideal candidate would be:

  • A stable prescription lasting more than 2 year
  • Over the age of 21
  • Lives a healthy lifestyle with no concerns to blood pressure

 You may be considered unsuitable if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding around the time of treatment
  • Have experienced damage to the eye, scarring to the tissue, or surgical procedures on the eye
  • Diagnosed with diseases that could affect the healing process
  • Taking steroids or immune-suppressants medication.
  • Suffer or have experienced eye problems such as lazy eye, severe dry eyes, strabismus, claustrophobia or other psychological problems.

SMILE Benefits

  • A fast procedure that takes less than 15 minutes to perform.
  • No pain or discomfort as numbing drops will be applied before, during, and after treatment
  • Quick recovery time, within 48 hours.
  • Prompt return to physical activities like swimming within a week. 

SMILE Side-effects

  • There is a risk of dry eye developing in the first few months after surgery.
  • You may have difficulty seeing at night as you notice glares, halos and double vision.
  • SMILE won’t stop the development of cataracts occurring later in life.
  • Risk of overcorrected/undercorrected eyes. This occurs when the cornea is lasered too much or too little.


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