Some areas of AAO.org are temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to restore access.

  • Who Is a Good Candidate for SMILE?

    Written By: David Turbert
    Reviewed By: Elena M Jimenez MD
    May. 03, 2018

    If you have an active lifestyle or job, SMILE may be a better option for you than LASIK or similar procedures. This is because SMILE does not involve cutting a flap in your cornea like LASIK. If you are highly active, you could accidentally dislodge a corneal flap, causing problems.

    To have SMILE, you need to meet certain requirements. Here are some of them:

    • You should be 22 years or older.
    • Your eye prescription should not have changed in the last year.
    • You should have nearsightedness between -1 and -8 diopters with minimal astigmatism.
    • Your corneas need to be healthy, and your overall eye health must be generally good.
    • You need to have realistic expectations about what SMILE can and cannot do for you.

    Some people are not candidates for SMILE. They include people with: 

    • an unstable (changing) refractive error
    • skin or other disease that can affect healing
    • excessive scarring or keyloid formation
    • cornea abrasions or disease
    • advanced glaucoma
    • a cataract affecting vision
    • uncontrolled diabetes
    • a history of eye disease or eye surgery
    • history of certain eye infections
    • or who are pregnant or nursing

    Your ophthalmologist can talk with you about other conditions that may keep you from having SMILE.

    To determine whether you are a candidate for SMILE, your ophthalmologist will examine your eyes. Here’s what he or she will do:

    • Check the overall health of your eyes
    • Measure your cornea
    • Check your pupil size
    • Measure your nearsightedness