SMILE Eye Surgery Removes Less Corneal Tissue Than LASIK

Ready to have something to SMILE about?

SMILE eye surgery from ZEISS is the latest achievement in laser vision correction. This minimally invasive procedure is the most advanced refractive surgery to treat mild to severe nearsightedness and astigmatism.

Unlike LASIK or PRK, SMILE does not require a corneal flap, which results in a faster less invasive procedure with potentially fewer post-surgery complications. Hodges Eye Care and Surgical Center is one of the first SMILE centers in the United States and the only laser clinic in Arizona to offer SMILE eye surgery, the fastest-growing laser vision correction surgery in the world.

What is SMILE eye surgery?

SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is new to the United States but has been performed around the world for over a decade. It is the fastest growing procedure for nearsightedness and astigmatism in the world. The procedure uses a highly-precise femtosecond laser to reshape your cornea from the inside, which preserves the integrity of the front of the eye, think of it as a laparoscopic LASIK procedure. Avoiding the LASIK flap and preserving the nerves in the front of the eye may help avoid problems like post LASIK dry eye and help to preserve the natural strength of the cornea.

How does SMILE work?

In a normal eye, the cornea and lens bend (refract) light so it lands properly on the retina and clear images are transmitted to the brain.

In a nearsighted eye, the eye is slightly too long or steeply curved, which affects the focusing power of the cornea and lens. This causes light to focus at a point in front of the retina, as opposed to directly on its surface, which results in blurry vision when viewing objects at a distance.

In the past, the best way to treat nearsightedness was with laser procedures like LASIK which requires the creation of a corneal flap.

By contrast, SMILE uses an ultra-fast femtosecond laser to precisely modify the shape of the cornea from the inside. SMILE is approved by the FDA to treat both nearsightedness and astigmatism.

Zeiss Visumax Laser

What happens during SMILE eye surgery?


SMILE Step 1

Step 1

In less than 30 seconds, a femtosecond laser is used to create a circular, lens-shaped cut, called a lenticule, inside the cornea. At the same time, the advanced laser creates a tiny access incision that’s only about 4mm wide.


Step 2

Step 2

The lenticule is carefully removed through the small incision, leaving the rest of the cornea intact.


Step 3

Step 3

The removal of the lenticule changes the shape of the corneal surface, which improves the way light is focused on the retina. This results in clear vision for patients with myopia and/or astigmatism.


What are the benefits of SMILE?

One-Step Laser Procedure

Unlike PRK and LASIK, SMILE eye surgery doesn’t require the use of both an excimer laser and femtosecond laser to modify the cornea. SMILE is an all-femto procedure, which speeds up surgery time and simplifies the procedure. The precision femtosecond laser also results in greater predictability and a low percentage of retreatment.

Easy Recovery with No Flap-Related Complications

Since no corneal flap is created during SMILE, there is no risk of the flap becoming dislodged and causing infection or vision problems. SMILE patients can resume normal activities including contact sports, boxing, martial arts and swimming within days of the procedure.

Enhanced Eye Stability

During SMILE, the upper layers of the cornea are virtually untouched. The preservation of this tissue is one of the most important factors in cornea stability. The more stable the cornea is after surgery, the less likely you are to experience post-surgery complications.

Fast, Quiet, and Odorless

SMILE is performed with short, repetitive pulses (around 10 MILLION in less than 30 seconds!!!) of energy from the femtosecond laser, which works quickly and silently without producing an odor.

How long does it take to see after SMILE?

The healing process varies from patient to patient, but in general, most patients have clear distance vision one or two days after the procedure. The majority of SMILE patients can drive, watch TV, and participate in sports without glasses or contact lenses.

Is SMILE a clinically proven procedure?

SMILE was approved by the FDA for the treatment of myopia and astigmatism in October 2018. However, SMILE has been performed in clinical studies since 2007 and available in many countries since 2011. Over ONE MILLION SMILE procedures have been performed worldwide, and the number of surgeries continue to increase every day. In fact, Zeiss expects the number to almost double in the coming year.

What are the downsides of SMILE?

At this time, SMILE is only used to treat nearsightedness and astigmatism. SMILE surgery for farsightedness is currently in clinical trials only. The best way to determine which procedure is right for you is to register for a consultation. Your eye surgeon will perform a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your eye health and recommend the best form of laser vision correction for you.

Are there any side effects?

Like any laser procedure, there is a slight risk of experiencing complications after surgery. Potential risks include over- or under correction, which may cause patients to still require glasses or contacts after surgery. In most instances, however, over and under corrections may be fixed with an enhancement.

Additional side effects may include difficulty seeing at night due to glare or halos around lights, hazy or double vision, temporary dry eye syndrome, or infection. Read the full informed consent before the procedure and speak with your doctor about the risks, benefits and alternatives to SMILE surgery. Having a good understanding of the procedure and aligning your expectations with reality is the surest way of having a good outcome.

Am I eligible for SMILE surgery?

SMILE corrects mild to severe nearsightedness and/or astigmatism. Like any form of laser vision correction, the nature and degree of the refractive error and the curvature and thickness of the cornea both factor into your candidacy for SMILE surgery. Lifestyle choices such as frequent strenuous physical activity or contact sports may impact your eligibility for the procedure. Your eye surgeon will provide you with a recommendation after performing a detailed eye exam and evaluating your medical history.

Tucson Laser Vision Correction

Looking for SMILE surgery in Tucson? Visit Hodges Eye Care and Surgical Center!  Dr. Timothy Hodges is honored to be the first certified doctor in Arizona to offer SMILE eye surgery with the ZEISS VisuMax Laser. Register for a complimentary SMILE consultation now to determine your eligibility for the world’s most advanced laser surgery!