Over the past several decades, laser eye surgery has come a long way. Refractive surgeons, who are eye specialists with further specialist training in refractive techniques, now have several methods of surgically correcting your vision with a laser. These include photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), laser-assisted in situ keratomileuses (LASIK), and now SMILE eye surgery (small incision lenticule extraction). With SMILE laser eye surgery being a newer addition, people tend to be less familiar with this technique. Keep reading to learn about how it works, how long does SMILE eye surgery last in correcting your vision, and whether it might be suitable for you.

All About SMILE Laser Eye Surgery

SMILE eye surgery has been hailed as a revolutionary laser surgery technique as it is minimally invasive, which confers a whole host of benefits to this method. 

During the SMILE laser eye surgery procedure, a highly precise femtosecond laser is used to separate a disc-like sliver of tissue out of the inner layers of the cornea. This disc of tissue, what is also known as the lenticule, is shaped in a specific way. Once the lenticule is removed from the eye through a tiny keyhole incision in the cornea, the resultant modified curvature of the cornea changes the way that light bends through this surface. The redirection of light through the cornea is what corrects your refractive error and removes your need for glasses or contact lenses. 

For those wondering how long SMILE eye surgery last in terms of procedure time, doctors typically quote 15 to 20 minutes for both eyes. Recovery time after SMILE laser eye surgery is also relatively quick and painless; depending on your vocation, you most likely need no more than 2 to 3 days of recovery.

Because of the minimally invasive nature of this technique, SMILE eye surgery has a number of benefits. These include:

  • Minimised complications as there is no corneal flap created during this technique, as is necessary for LASIK eye surgery
  • Corneal mechanical integrity and stability are maintained
  • Reduced risk of post-operative dry eye as the corneal nerves are not disrupted as much as in LASIK
  • Fast healing times

SMILE eye surgery is capable of correcting astigmatism and myopia (short-sightedness). At the moment, the technique is not suitable for hyperopia (long-sightedness) or presbyopia (the natural age-related decline of near focus ability). This method of refractive vision correction is a good option for patients even with high degrees of myopia, as well as those who often engage in rough activities or activities with a risk of facial trauma. Those who suffer from dry eyes may also prefer the SMILE laser surgery technique to minimise their risk of exacerbating their dry eye symptoms. 


How Long Does SMILE Eye Surgery Last in Correcting Vision?

If you’re about to spend thousands of dollars on laser surgery, it’s sensible to want to know how long the results are going to last. So, how long does SMILE eye surgery last

In a sense, the vision-correcting results are permanent. The modification to the cornea after the femtosecond laser has done its work is irreversible, and though you may have further laser retreatment, the corneal changes made cannot be undone. Therefore, in theory, the sight correction should persist. 

However, the body doesn’t always cooperate in the way that we hope. There have been instances of refractive regression after all types of laser eye surgery.

how long does smile eye surgery procedure last melbourneThis means that a short or long-sighted, or astigmatic prescription begins to return, causing your vision to blur. Out of PRK, LASIK, and SMILE eye surgery, SMILE has been found to be associated with the least regression for myopic patients, although the risk of regression increases with increasing degrees of myopia.

The reasons why refractive regression occurs are not fully understood, but experts believe it may be a result of the body’s response to the laser treatment on a cellular level.

If a prescription begins to regress, you may opt for enhancement retreatment, which can be done with PRK or LASIK, though this can be associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes such as corneal haze. 

Another factor to consider is the advent of presbyopia. Presbyopia happens to everyone with age; most will begin to experience early presbyopia around their mid-40s. SMILE eye surgery serves to correct only your far distance vision. This means that when presbyopia occurs, you will find yourself eventually still needing to use reading glasses for near work. For this reason, refractive surgeons will typically advise you against SMILE eye surgery (or most other laser eye surgery procedures) if you are approaching your mid-40s, as the duration of your spectacle-free days will be very limited. 

It’s important to understand that your clarity of sight is dependent on more than just correcting your refractive error. Various eye diseases can impact your vision, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and damage and scarring from trauma to the eye. Undergoing SMILE laser surgery does not remove or minimise your risk of other vision-threatening conditions. Even if your refractive error is perfectly corrected with laser surgery, your vision can still deteriorate due to disease. 

After you’ve had SMILE laser surgery, it’s important to continue to see your local optometrist or ophthalmologist for regular exams to maintain healthy eyes and vision.


Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.



FAQs on Relex SMILE Laser Eye Surgery.


SMILE Laser Eye Surgery (ReLEx).


SMILE offers low enhancement rate after nomogram adjustment. 


Improving Your SMILE: Retreatment Update. 


Mechanisms of Optical Regression Following Corneal Laser Refractive Surgery: Epithelial and Stromal Responses.


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