What About SMILE Eye Surgery for Astigmatism?
SMILE was approved in the United States in October of 2018 for treating myopia (nearsightedness) with astigmatism. Astigmatism is a common eye condition that can both cause near and distant objects to appear blurred, occurring as a result of a misshapen cornea. While a ‘normal’ cornea is spherical (has the same curvature all over), a cornea with astigmatism is steeper in some areas and flatter in other areas, resembling a football in shape rather than a basketball (spherical). This football shape distorts vision and creates refractive errors. People with astigmatism have blurred vision if it is left uncorrected. This is due to light refracting at many points, instead of one. The SMILE procedure has been used around the world for many years to treat myopic (nearsighted) patients with astigmatism. Fortunately, the FDA has recently reviewed an extensive study conducted in the United States and approved the SMILE procedure for use in nearsighted patients with astigmatism! The safety, efficacy, and excellent visual outcomes proven in the trials made FDA approval a clear decision for the FDA when evaluating the research. In addition to the ability to treat astigmatism with SMILE, the new approval also makes parameters within the femtosecond laser available that allow for a smaller incision and faster visual recovery than was attainable with the initial version of SMILE laser surgery!
Avoiding Dry Eye With SMILE
LASIK is well-known in the vision correction community, and it’s an amazing procedure for many patients. A common side effect of LASIK, however, is the post-operative dry eye that can occur. In general, this lasts for about 6 to 12 months. Symptoms of dryness can be quite bothersome, particularly in patients who spend lots of time looking at screens for a profession or during their leisure time. Because of the larger incision required for LASIK, many of the nerves that sense dryness are affected by the procedure and need to regenerate. During SMILE, a significantly smaller incision is used and only a small fraction of the nerves are affected. The result: patients who get SMILE experience fewer dry eye symptoms for a shorter time as compared to LASIK. Los Angeles SMILE patients can expect a shorter recovery time from the procedure, and are less likely to develop dry eye symptoms. What does this mean for SMILE patients in Los Angeles where the environment is so dry? Los Angeles SMILE patients can expect a shorter recovery time from the procedure, and less chances of developing dry eye symptoms.
SMILE Surgery for Patients that can’t have LASIK
Corneal thickness is one of the most important factors considered for LASIK candidacy. Patients with corneas that are thin may not be candidates for LASIK eye surgery. Before SMILE Eye Surgery, these patients would have to resort to PRK. PRK is another successful vision correction procedure requiring removal of the epithelium (“skin cells”) of the cornea. The cornea is then reshaped using an excimer laser.During PRK, a contact lens is placed inside of the eye and acts as a bandage while the surface of the cornea heals. As the cornea is recovering, eyes are more sensitive to light, vision tends to fluctuate, and sometimes experience temporary eye irritation. These side effects are temporary and stabilize after a month of recovery. SMILE is less invasive than LASIK, making it better for treating patients who are severely nearsighted. The SMILE procedure allows our Los Angeles patients to have another alternative to LASIK, in addition to PRK, for patients with thin corneas.
Am I a Good Candidate for SMILE Vision Correction?
While SMILE is able to provide safe, gentle vision correction for many, not everyone is going to be a good candidate for SMILE. Like LASIK, you must qualify as a candidate for the procedure. Currently, SMILE has been FDA approved for myopia with astigmatism. SMILE is capable of correcting nearsightedness up to -10.00 diopters, and -3.00 diopters of astigmatism. If your nearsightedness and/or astigmatism is outside these ranges, or if you are farsighted, Dr. Hamilton may recommend an alternative procedure for you. Following a comprehensive diagnostic examination, Dr. Hamilton will determine which of the amazing refractive surgery procedures at the Hamilton Eye Institute is best for your particular situation, lifestyle, and visual needs.