SMILE laser eye surgery is a relatively new technology used for improving the vision by applying laser to the lens as well as the cornea. SMILE stands for Small incision lenticule extraction. In this technique, a small lenticular or disc of corneal tissue is removed with femtosecond laser.
While in LASIK surgery, a flap is made on the surface of cornea to ablate the inner tissue, in SMILE surgery the lenticule or disc is removed from a tiny incision without disturbing the surface of cornea significantly. This is therefore more suitable for patients with dry eye and other corneal surface disorders.
Only five minutes is needed for both eyes with the new technology, while LASIK takes about 15 minutes, Hui said.
“Patients will feel like having sand in their eye the day of the surgery,” Hui said, adding that the mild discomfort normally goes away the following day.
Citing a 2015 US study, Hui said 80 percent of the patients who underwent the latest SMILE surgery do not have to use eye drops for dry eyes six months post surgery, while 57 percent of those who took the traditional LASIK surgery have to do so.
A big contrast is also noticed in the recovery period of the two generation of laser eye surgery, with SMILE taking days and LASIK taking weeks or even months, Hui said.
Lau said the chances of infection for the latest surgery is also lower, with the cut smaller and opened at the top of the cornea covered by the eyelids.