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SMILE Eye Surgery

What is SMILE eye surgery?

SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction)  is an advanced laser eye surgery technique used to correct myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. It involves the use of a femtosecond laser to create a small, lens-shaped piece of corneal tissue (lenticule) within the eye. The lenticule is then removed through a small incision on the cornea, reshaping its curvature and correcting the refractive error. SMILE technology aims to provide patients with a minimally invasive procedure, potentially reducing discomfort and promoting quicker recovery compared to traditional laser vision correction methods. The procedure’s name, “SMILE,” is derived from the acronym “Small Incision Lenticule Extraction,” which accurately describes the key steps and approach of the surgery.

What does SMILE eye surgery treat?

SMILE eye surgery is a specialized procedure designed to treat specific refractive errors, primarily myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. Here’s a closer look at how SMILE surgery addresses these conditions:

  1. Myopia (Nearsightedness): Myopia is a common refractive error where distant objects appear blurry while close-up objects can be seen clearly. This occurs when the eyeball is slightly longer than normal, or the cornea is too curved. As a result, light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of directly on it. SMILE eye surgery aims to correct myopia by reshaping the cornea, allowing light to focus properly on the retina and improving distance vision.
  2. Astigmatism: Astigmatism is characterized by an irregular curvature of the cornea or lens, leading to distorted or blurred vision at all distances. This irregular curvature causes light to focus on multiple points of the retina instead of a single point, leading to visual distortion. SMILE surgery can effectively treat astigmatism by reshaping the cornea into a more symmetrical and even curvature, thereby reducing visual distortions and improving overall clarity.

It’s important to note that SMILE surgery is not intended for the treatment of hyperopia (farsightedness) or presbyopia (age-related difficulty focusing on near objects). The procedure is specifically tailored to correct myopia and astigmatism, providing patients with improved vision and reduced dependence on glasses or contact lenses.

How do I prepare for my surgery?

If you wear contact lenses, most surgeons recommend switching to glasses a few weeks before surgery. You are advised not to apply makeup, lotions or perfume the day you have surgery. Also, it is suggested that you arrange to have someone bring you home afterward.

How It Works: The Step-by-Step

  • Step 1: Creating the lenticule. A small piece of corneal tissue (lenticule) and a small incision are created inside the intact cornea.
  • Step 2: Removing the lenticule. The lenticule is removed through the small incision with minimal disruption to the cornea.
  • Step 3: Correcting the error. Removing the lenticule changes the shape of the cornea, correcting the refractive error.

How long does a SMILE eye surgery take?

The SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) eye surgery procedure itself is typically quite quick. The laser part of the procedure, which is used to create the lenticule and perform the necessary corneal reshaping, usually takes around 30 seconds to a minute for each eye.

In general, you can expect the entire SMILE surgery process, including pre-surgical preparations and post-operative instructions, to take a few hours. Keep in mind that the surgery itself is very quick, and the majority of your time will be spent on pre-operative procedures and recovery precautions.

Does it hurt?

The procedure is virtually painless. Anesthetic eye drops are used to numb the eye.

Is it safe?

Complications following SMILE surgery are very rare, but cannot be completely ruled out. Your eye doctor will discuss these with you.

What happens after surgery?

Following surgery, you will need to go home and rest. A protective bandage or eye shield is placed over the eye to avoid rubbing it. Eye drops and possibly other medication are typically prescribed to prevent infection and aid in the healing process. It is customary to have a post-op examination the next day. Further examinations are usually scheduled for the following weeks or months.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Every healing process is different. In most cases, visual acuity is very good one or two days after the operation, and stabilizes within one week. Normally, you will be able to drive, work and participate in sports without glasses or contact lenses just a few days following treatment.

It’s important to note that everyone’s healing process is unique, and your recovery may differ from the general guideline. Some individuals might feel comfortable returning to work sooner, while others might require a bit more time.


What are the Potential Risks and Complications?

The potential risks and complications associated with SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) eye surgery include:

  • Undercorrection or Overcorrection: In some cases, the desired vision correction may not be achieved, resulting in residual refractive errors that require further treatment.
  • Dry Eyes: Temporary dryness and discomfort in the eyes can occur after surgery. This usually resolves over time, but in some cases, it may persist.
  • Halos and Glare: Some patients may experience halos, glare, or starbursts around lights, especially at night. These visual disturbances can affect nighttime vision.
  • Infection: Although rare, there is a risk of infection following any surgical procedure. Proper post-operative care and hygiene are essential to minimize this risk.
  • Corneal Haze: Some patients may develop corneal haze, which can temporarily affect vision clarity. This typically resolves with time and proper management.

It’s important to note that while these risks exist, the majority of SMILE surgeries are successful, and complications are rare. To mitigate risks and ensure the best possible outcome, it’s crucial to follow pre-operative and post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon and maintain regular follow-up appointments for proper monitoring of your healing process. Your surgeon will discuss potential risks and complications with you during the consultation to help you make an informed decision about the procedure.

Who is eligible for SMILE?

SMILE is used to correct nearsightedness, astigmatism, or both. As with other Laser Vision Correction methods, you will first need to undergo a detailed eye examination to determine whether you are a suitable candidate. Many factors play a role, including the nature and degree of the refractive error, the curvature and thickness of the cornea. Your profession and hobbies are also important.

SMILE is an interesting option also for athletes engaged in contact sports, flight crews as well as military and rescue personnel.

Who are not suitable candidates for SMILE eye surgery?

There are certain circumstances and conditions under which individuals should not undergo SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) eye surgery. Here are some factors that might disqualify someone from having SMILE surgery:

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are typically advised to delay any elective surgeries, including SMILE, until after their pregnancy and breastfeeding period.
  • Frequent Prescription Changes: Individuals who have experienced frequent changes in their eyeglass or contact lens prescription within the past year might not be suitable candidates, as their eyes may not have stabilized.
  • Severe Eye Conditions: People with severe eye conditions such as advanced glaucoma, retinal diseases, or corneal diseases like keratoconus might not be appropriate candidates for SMILE surgery.
  • Corneal Scarring: Individuals with significant scarring on the cornea from previous injuries, surgeries, or infections may not be suitable candidates for SMILE, as the procedure relies on a healthy cornea.
  • Certain Systemic Conditions: Uncontrolled diabetes or autoimmune diseases affecting the eyes may increase the risks associated with surgery and affect healing, making SMILE surgery unsuitable.
  • Young Age: SMILE surgery is generally recommended for individuals aged 22 and above, as younger individuals might still experience changes in their prescription.
  • Cataracts: If you have cataracts that are affecting your vision, it’s usually recommended to address the cataracts first before considering any refractive surgery.
  • Insufficient Corneal Thickness: SMILE requires a certain corneal thickness to perform the procedure safely. If your corneas are too thin, you may not be a suitable candidate for SMILE.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Candidates who have unrealistic expectations about the results of the surgery or who don’t fully understand the benefits and limitations of SMILE may not be ideal candidates.
  • Eye Infections or Inflammation: Active eye infections or inflammation would need to be treated and resolved before considering any eye surgery.
  • Other Health Factors: Other health factors and medications you’re taking can influence your candidacy for SMILE. Your eye care professional will consider your overall health when assessing your suitability for the procedure.

Keep in mind that candidacy for SMILE is determined through a thorough examination by an experienced eye care professional. It’s essential to have a detailed discussion with your eye doctor to assess your specific situation and determine whether SMILE surgery is the right option for you.

How much Does SMILE Eye Surgery Cost in Vietnam?

The cost of SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) eye surgery in Vietnam can vary depending on several factors, including the clinic or hospital you choose, the surgeon’s expertise, the level of technology used, and any additional services included in the package. On average, the cost of SMILE surgery in Vietnam typically ranges from around $1,000 to $2,500 per eye.

It’s important to note that this is a general estimate, and the actual cost may be higher or lower based on individual circumstances. Some clinics might offer package deals that include pre-operative assessments, post-operative care, and any necessary medications. Additionally, the complexity of your refractive error and the technology used can influence the cost.

To get an accurate and up-to-date cost estimate for SMILE eye surgery in Vietnam, it’s recommended to contact reputable eye care centers or clinics directly. They can provide you with detailed information about their pricing structure and the services included in their packages. Before making a decision, ensure that you understand all the costs involved and inquire about any available financing options or payment plans if needed.

SMILE eye surgery vs LASIK

SMILE vs. LASIK: Which Is Better?

The choice between SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) and LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) depends on various factors, including your specific vision needs, eye health, and preferences. Both procedures are effective methods of vision correction, but they have distinct differences that might make one more suitable for you than the other. Here’s a comparison to help you understand the key aspects of each procedure:

SMILE Eye Surgery:

  • Minimally Invasive: SMILE is a minimally invasive procedure that involves creating a small incision and removing a lenticule from the cornea. This can result in a quicker healing time and potentially less disruption to corneal nerves.
  • Preservation of Corneal Strength: SMILE involves creating a smaller incision compared to LASIK, which means more corneal strength is retained. This can be beneficial for individuals with thin corneas.
  • Suitable for Higher Prescriptions: SMILE may be preferable for individuals with higher prescriptions or those with thin corneas, as it involves less tissue removal compared to LASIK.
  • Reduced Dry Eye Risk: Some studies suggest that SMILE might have a lower incidence of post-operative dry eye compared to LASIK.

LASIK Eye Surgery:

  • Established Procedure: LASIK has been performed for decades and has a well-established track record of success. Surgeons and patients are familiar with the procedure.
  • Quick Recovery: Many LASIK patients experience a relatively quick visual recovery, with improved vision often within hours after the surgery.
  • Versatility: LASIK can correct a wide range of refractive errors, including myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
  • Proven Results: LASIK has a long history of successful outcomes, and numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness.

Ultimately, the decision between SMILE and LASIK depends on your individual needs and circumstances. Factors such as your prescription, corneal thickness, risk of dry eyes, and surgeon’s recommendation all play a role. It’s essential to consult with an experienced eye care professional who can evaluate your eyes and help you make an informed choice based on your unique situation. They can guide you toward the procedure that is most likely to provide the best outcomes for your vision correction goals.