The Next Revolution in Laser Eye Surgery: SMILE Laser Eye Surgery Explained

The ReLEx SMILE procedure is the newest and most advanced form of refractive eye surgery.  First came PRK, then the LASIK revolution, now SMILE is set to revolutionize laser vision correction once more.


Surface ablation surgery

  • Subepithelial ablation
  • Excimer laser treatment
  • Extended visual recovery time
  • Patient discomfort

Flap surgery

  • Stromal ablation
  • Excimer laser treatment or combined with femtosecond laser
  • Quick visual recovery
  • Some risk of flap complications

Minimally invasive, flapless surgery

  • Intrastromal lenticule extraction
  • Femtosecond laser treatment
  • Gentle treatment
  • No flap complications (e.g. less incedence of dry eye)

SMILE stands for ‘small incision lenticule extraction.’ It is a minimally invasive, flapless procedure which combines the advantages of both PRK and LASIK.  During a SMILE procedure, computer guided, highly focused laser light is used to create a lenticule, a precise lens-shaped disc within the cornea, which is then removed through a tiny keyhole incision. 

The biggest difference and advancement between SMILE and its predecessors is that this procedure does not create a flap like in LASIK. SMILE is both a blade-free and flap-free procedure.  

Since there is no flap created, there are no flap-related complications possible with SMILE.  Instead, a small keyhole incision is created through which the lenticule is extracted. The minimized risk of flap-related complications is one of the many improvements SMILE is offering to refractive eye surgery.

Another difference between SMILE and LASIK is that the latter is a two-step procedure, involving a femtosecond laser creating a corneal flap and then an excimer laser ablating tissue to change the curvature of the cornea.  SMILE, by comparison, is a one-laser procedure, flapless procedure.

The FDA has recently approved the SMILE procedure for widespread use but it is currently only available in approximately 500 clinics in 61 countries around the world.

Have All Your SMILE Laser Eye Surgery Questions Answered at LaserVue

If you would like to learn more about SMILE and whether or not it could be right for you, contact your trusted experts at Laservue Eye Center.  Schedule a complimentary consultation today to explore the different laser eye surgery options and discover which is right for you.