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SMILE – Freedom for 4 Million Eyes and Counting

Right from the day of its launch, way back in 2011, this revolutionary procedure for vision correction blew away everyone across the big wide world of refractive ophthalmology. While some took time to accept, many leading ophthalmologists were prompt in recognizing the benefits and predicted SMILE® to turn into the go-to technology in future. And so, it happened.

As of today, in almost a decade’s time, SMILE® has been performed on over 4 million eyes worldwide. This also coincides with more than 55 eye care set-ups adopting and successfully offering SMILE® in India alone. The surface ablation procedures like PRK kick started the popularization of laser vision correction for permanently treating myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. However, the real game changer was LASIK, with introduction of flap-based technology, excellent results were obtained, and more and more people opted for LASIK to overcome dependence on spectacles/contact lenses. But in the last two decades, the digital revolution led to drastic increase in rate of myopia (near sightedness) among people worldwide. And a need for a future proof surgical technology emerged, which not only assured excellent results but also aligned with the lifestyle requirements of the Gen Z. This was sensed in advance by the global optical giant, Carl Zeiss Germany which has been always in the forefront of introducing major breakthroughs in the optical and ophthalmological device industry for last two centuries. SMILE® was initially launched as ReLEx SMILE but is now patented and offered under the registered name of SMILE® which stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction.

While the results with LASIK and its numerous variants like Contoura, Topo guided LASIK or Blade LASIK are all good, the major limitation with all these procedures is “flap”. To perform LASIK or any of its variants, creation of flap is a must. A flap of about 18-20 mm diameter is carved on the cornea before giving the laser treatment. Although the flap heals back on its own over a period, there have been instances where flap dislocation happened even several months after the surgery. Additionally, the flap induces higher rates of dry eyes because of weakening of corneal nerves which are tampered during flap making. However, it must be noted that the chances of flap associated risks are not extremely high and in last few decades several million eyes have been healed with LASIK with considerably good amount of success.

But with changing lifestyle, one is spending more and more time in front of screen. This is at one end is causing increase in rate of myopia and other vision problems among younger lots. While on the other hand there is no escape from these gadgets, and there is no choice but to use them. This means if going for a vision correction procedure, one needs to choose a patient-friendly technology that not only gives excellent results but also ensures faster healing and promises minimal risks in the long run. The flair for travelling today is like it was never in the past, more and more people are travelling, more people are indulging in physical workouts, more people are aspiring for a hassle-free life where solutions are instant and moving on is faster. Considering all these factors, SMILE® laser eye surgery is widely growing in preference as treatment of choice for refractive surgeries (Laser vision correction). All the leading ophthalmologists today offer SMILE®, it has made in-roads to some of the farthest places. The availability of SMILE® in major research oriented government institutions like Army Hospital-Delhi, PGI-Chandigarh and RP Centre of Ophthalmology- AIIMS proves that SMILE® is much more beyond being a sophisticated substitute for LASIK but it is a technology that triggered eye care researchers and surgeons to explore the newer possibilities they can achieve with it. Among private players, all major institutes across India offer SMILE® laser eye surgery. In Delhi, the growth in preference for relex smile eye surgery over conventional LVC procedures is indeed remarkable. Youngsters are now aware about the difference in flap-based technology and minimally invasive flapless procedure, relex smile. The reasons for undergoing laser vision correction are diverse, but relex smile apparently suits for every reason. Be it wedding, career, sports or traveling abroad for higher studies – name the reason and relex smile owing to its flapless nature, fits in.

Of course not all patients are eligible for relex smile, there are certain pre- examinations which must be done before going for surgery and based on the results, the surgeon will let the patient know if he is suitable for SMILE® laser eye surgery or for any other laser vision correction procedure. A good surgeon will only recommend whatever is best for the eyes in the long run.