Eye Laser Specialists are pleased to announce that we are the first ophthalmology clinic to offer SMILE® eye surgery in Melbourne. This revolutionary refractive surgery technique is quick, precise, and minimally invasive, with excellent visual results and minimal healing time.
What is SMILE® Laser Surgery? Are you Suitable?
Melbourne is fortunate to now have access to this minimally invasive procedure since it was first performed in 2006 following the introduction of the VisuMax femtosecond laser by Zeiss. SMILE® stands for “small incision lenticule extraction” and combines the best of both worlds from PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK (laser assisted in situ keratomileusis) techniques.
An excellent option for many patients who wish to reduce their dependency on glasses and contact lenses, SMILE® has come to be known as a safe, gentle, and accurate procedure. Since its introduction, over 2 million eyes have seen the benefits of SMILE® laser surgery, allowing patients to continue their active lifestyles without impediment from their glasses or contacts.
What are the Advantages of this Technique?
The benefits of SMILE® eye surgery are numerous, which is why this technique is considered a revolutionary refractive surgery procedure.
During LASIK eye surgery, a superficial flap of corneal tissue is created to allow the laser to access the underlying layers. Although uncommon, some complications can arise from the creation of this flap. SMILE® eliminates the need to form a flap and therefore eliminates all flap-related risks.
The term minimally invasive refers to the minimal amount of tissue affected during the surgery. As the superficial layers of the cornea are left intact, this contributes to improved biomechanical stability of this structure and promotes faster healing when compared to the LASIK procedure.
The fewer steps and movements in a surgical procedure, the better. Only one laser is required for the entire technique, meaning the patient does not need to be moved from one machine to another and also reduces the incidence of technique-related complications.
Due to its minimally invasive nature and keyhole incision, the physical recovery after a SMILE® operation is very quick.
Lower risk of dry eye post-operatively
When compared to the LASIK procedure, SMILE® carries a much lower incidence of post-operative dry eye complications. This is due to fewer corneal nerves being affected during the SMILE® procedure, which is important for the healthy and normal production of tears.
Am I suitable for SMILE®?
Laser eye surgery in Melbourne is now available to more patients than ever before with the introduction of SMILE® technology at Eye Laser Specialists. Though the usual exclusion criteria do apply, refractive surgery is now more accessible with the added advantages of the SMILE® technique.
SMILE® may be most suited to:
Patients with pre-existing dry eye
Other refractive surgery techniques can carry a big risk factor for the exacerbation of pre-existing dry eye or the new development of dry eye due to the nature of the surgery. Dry eye post-operatively from SMILE® is exceedingly rare due to the minimally invasive nature of this procedure, allowing better preservation of the corneal nerves. The incidence of dry eye in the general population increases with increasing age, making SMILE® an excellent option for older generations.
Patients who play contact sports or work in environments with risk of trauma
SMILE® is a flapless procedure, eradicating all risks of flap-related complications. Patients can return to their hobbies and work without concern of mild trauma or dirty environments causing a corneal flap to dislodge or move, or debris to get caught under the flap.
Patients who can’t afford a long recovery time
Many of us lead busy lives and taking time off work can be difficult. Because SMILE® is such a minimally invasive procedure, most patients find they can drive and return to work within 2 to 3 days after surgery. Though vision may take a few weeks to stabilise, the majority of patients find they can see quite clearly the immediate day after surgery.
SMILE® is best suited to treating myopia (short-sightedness) and can address levels of myopia even into the double digits. Astigmatism can also be treated with the SMILE® technique. At this stage, SMILE® is not suitable for patients with hyperopia (long-sightedness) or presbyopia (the natural age-related decline of near vision). Patients with hyperopia or presbyopia may be more suitable for LASIK or refractive lens exchange.
Despite falling within the prescription range, some patients may still not be good candidates for SMILE® laser eye surgery. These are typically those who are not expected to achieve any significant improvement to their vision due to the presence of other eye diseases, such as cataract, macular degeneration, or lazy eye. Patients with corneal scarring or disease, such as keratoconus, require extra care and specialised advice regarding corneal refractive surgeries and may be recommended a procedure other than SMILE®.
Call Eye Laser Specialists now on 1300 297 583 to see if SMILE® is suitable for you.
What does the SMILE® procedure involve?
Prior to entering the SMILE® operating theatre, you will undergo a thorough clinical assessment with the ophthalmology team. This is to ascertain your suitability for the procedure and to take the appropriate measurements necessary to guide the laser in creating the precise lenticule. At this time any risks of surgery and the costs of the procedure will be discussed with you.
During the procedure itself the eye will be anaesthetised with topical eye drops and a mild sedative can be offered for additional comfort. An instrument known as a speculum will help keep the eyelids open for the duration of the procedure; this is not considered painful but may feel a little uncomfortable for the first few minutes. You will be asked to fixate on a target light as the femtosecond laser creates the lenticule and it is subsequently removed from the keyhole incision. The total time spent on the operating bed is about 10-20 minutes but the procedure itself, from the incision to the laser to the removal of the lenticule, takes only a few minutes per eye.
What are the costs of SMILE® Laser Eye Surgery?
The costs of SMILE® surgery will vary depending on a number of factors. It is best to first attend the initial consultation with clinical team where an accurate quote can be provided after an assessment on which refractive surgery procedure is most suitable for you. Some private health insurance plans, such as BUPA, may cover the costs of your surgery. Eye Laser Specialists also offer interest-free plans with MiFund.
If the idea of clear vision without glasses or contact lenses appeals to you, along with experiencing the latest generation of minimally invasive refractive surgery technology, call Eye Laser Specialists today on 1300 297 583 to book your initial assessment.
FAQ’s about SMILE®
Do you have a payment plan?
Yes, we offer interest-free finance options to make SMILE® vision correction accessible for everyone – see now, pay later.
What if I blink during procedure?
During the procedure an instrument known as a speculum will be used to gently hold the eyelids open. Some patients with narrower eyes describe the initial sensation as slightly uncomfortable but most find the feeling quickly normalises as the surgery proceeds and it no longer bothers them. Though you may continue to feel like you’re blinking, the speculum keeps the eyelids safely open.
Is SMILE® painful?
Due to the use of numbing eye drops throughout the procedure, SMILE® is not considered to be painful. There may be a sensation of slight pressure as the flap is being created for 15 seconds. After the drops wear off, some grittiness or dryness post-operatively may be experienced.
What can I expect during the recovery period?
Once the SMILE® surgery is completed, you will have a shield placed over the eye for protection. The usual rules post-surgery apply:
- Use the prescription drops as directed. This will usually involve steroid eye drops to control inflammation, as well as antibiotic drops to prevent infection.
- Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity.
- Avoid getting the eye wet, including in the shower, for a couple of days.
- Avoid rubbing your eye.
- Try to keep the eye area clean by avoiding environments that are dirty or dusty.
- Attend all post-operative review appointments as recommended by your surgeon. This is to ensure your eye is healing as expected.
Many patients can see clearly enough to return to work in a couple of days, though this may depend on the nature of the work. Following the SMILE® procedure, most patients can usually drive the next day after the post-op visit.
Soon after undergoing SMILE® you may have a gritty sensation in the eyes. Grittiness in the immediate post-op period is very normal and common and can be addressed with the regular use of preservative-free lubricating eye drops; it usually resolves overnight.
What are the risks of SMILE®?
All surgery comes with potential risks and complications. Eye Laser Specialists will discuss these with you in depth at the time of your consultation once a decision has been made about the ideal procedure that best suits your eyes.
How much does SMILE® eye surgery in Melbourne cost?
SMILE® eye surgery in Melbourne will vary in cost depending on a number of factors. As SMILE® may not necessarily be the most suitable refractive surgery technique for you, it is best to attend a consultation with our ophthalmologist or a preliminary examination with our optometrist, after which a more accurate quote can be provided based on which surgical procedure is advised.
What will I see during the procedure?
Your eyes remain open during the procedure and for the most part will be focused on a blinking target light to keep the eyes aligned when instructed. You may notice other bright lights as the surgery progresses but will not have a view of the actual surgical procedure being carried out on your eyes. The majority of patients are pleasantly surprised when they are informed the procedure is complete.