Will LASIK Laser Eye Surgery Be Replaced With SMILE?

For over two decades, LASIK has been the most popular form of Laser Eye Surgery, granting millions of people around the world freedom from glasses and contact lenses. But will the growing availability of ReLEx SMILE surgery see LASIK become obsolete?

Since the inception of Laser Eye Surgery in the early 1980s, the vision correction field has been at the forefront of surgical innovation. Technology and knowledge are evolving and improving all the time, allowing for higher success rates. Success can vary from clinic to clinic, however: in 2018, more than 95 per cent of patients at London Vision Clinic achieved 20/20 vision after surgery.

How Does it Work?

ReLEx SMILE, or SMILE for short, is one of the newest innovations in corrective eye surgery. Like LASIK, SMILE uses femtosecond laser technology to alter the shape of the cornea and improve your vision.

The difference between these two treatments lies in how the corneal tissue is removed. In LASIK treatment, surgeons access the corneal bed by creating a ‘flap’ in the epithelium, allowing the laser to reshape the underlying tissue. Once the procedure is complete, the flap is returned to its original position where it can begin to heal.

In comparison, SMILE negates the need for a flap – or any removal of the cornea. Instead, SMILE adopts a minimally-invasive technique, creating a tiny incision using the VisuMax laser. Applying a number of tiny pulses allows for a keyhole to be created from the surface of the eye to the corneal bed. Surgeons are then able to remove tissue through this keyhole incision – hence why SMILE is known as “keyhole LASIK”.

What are the Benefits?

The minimally-invasive nature of SMILE offers several advantages, including a higher chance of patient suitability for Laser Eye Surgery. Importantly, SMILE can be used to treat a higher range of prescriptions than previously deemed possible. It can also be suitable for patients with thin corneas or dry eyes who may not be suitable for other methods of Laser Eye Surgery.

SMILE was first approved in 2010 and by 2012, we were happy that the technology was ready for mainstream use. As such, London Vision Clinic became the first Laser Eye Surgery clinic in the UK to offer this revolutionary new procedure to our patients – and we have never looked back.

The availability of SMILE procedures continues to grow, with millions of people around the world now having benefited from its advantages.

“Several great advances come from not having to create a flap or disturb the front of the cornea; the level of correction can be much higher without weakening the cornea, and people who are contact lens intolerant can now be candidates as there is little or no dry eye after ReLEx.”  —Professor Dan Reinstein

In 2018, we published the authoritative textbook on SMILE, solidifying its place in refractive surgery clinics and its contribution to the evolution of the Laser Eye Surgery industry.

The Future of Laser Eye Surgery?

It is important to remember though that despite all of these benefits (including faster recovery times and more comfortable procedures), SMILE is still not necessarily the best fit for everyone. At this time, LASIK treatment is still far from obsolete and remains an important offering for Laser Eye Surgery clinics around the globe.

To determine which treatment is right for you, it is essential to undergo an in-depth evaluation with a qualified surgeon using the most cutting edge technology to make an accurate diagnosis.

If you would like to learn more about ReLEx SMILE or find out if you are suitable for treatment, contact one of our friendly clinic coordinators today.

Our Fees start from £5,500 for standard treatment. Higher or very complex prescriptions may cost up to £6,900. Flexible finance makes the best more affordable: Choose payments from £56 per month, or a low 10% upfront. Payment plans from one to five years are available including a 24-month interest-free option. Read more.