• What to Expect With SMILE

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    Reviewed By: James M Huffman, MD
    Apr. 29, 2020

    Before surgery. You and your ophthalmologist should discuss your expectations for SMILE. People who have SMILE to achieve perfect vision without glasses or contacts run the risk of being disappointed. SMILE allows people to do most of their everyday tasks without corrective lenses. But you might need to wear glasses for certain activities, such as reading or driving at night.

    Your ophthalmologist will examine your eyes and make sure you are a candidate for SMILE. Here is what he or she will do:

    • Test your vision. This is to make sure that your vision has not changed. It also shows how high your nearsightedness is and whether SMILE can be used to correct your vision.
    • Check for other eye problems. Your ophthalmologist will make sure that you do not have eye problems. This is because other problems could affect your surgery, or SMILE could make those other problems worse.
    • Measure and map the surface of your cornea. Your ophthalmologist will check the thickness of your cornea and make precise measurements of the cornea's surface. Your eye surgeon uses these measurements to program the computer-based laser used during surgery.
    • Measure your pupil size.

    During SMILE. The procedure usually takes about 10 – 15 minutes. Here is what to expect:

    • The laser is programmed with specific measurements for your eye.
    • Your eye will be numbed with eye drops.
    • Your eye surgeon will place an eyelid holder on your eye to keep you from blinking.
    • A suction ring lifts and flattens the cornea and helps keep the eye from moving.
    • The laser sculpts a disc-shaped piece of cornea below the surface of your eye. This is the "lenticule" that gives the surgery its name.
    • The laser then makes a small incision in your cornea. This gives your surgeon access to the disc that the laser formed. The entire laser treatment takes about 30 seconds.
    • Your surgeon removes the disc-shaped piece of cornea through the incision. This reshapes your cornea.

    After surgery. Keep these things in mind for the days after surgery:

    • You will need to have someone drive you home after surgery.
    • You should plan to take a nap or just relax for the rest of the day.
    • You should take your eye-drop medicine as prescribed by your surgeon.
    • Your vision may be blurry right after SMILE surgery. As you heal over the next few days and weeks, your vision will gradually improve.
    • You can do most normal activities after a day or two. Avoid getting water in your eyes for a few days.