SMILE: It's a Breakthrough in Myopia Treatment

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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute played a major role in the approval of the ReLEx SMILE procedure for the treatment of nearsightedness.

Since its initial approved in the mid-1990s, laser eye surgery has become increasingly popular. As technology improves and the options increase, more and more patients are becoming candidates for corrective procedures. The surgeries are also becoming more precise and more capable all the time.

SMILE for nearsightedness

A few years ago, the FDA approval of the ReLEx SMILE procedure, otherwise known as Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, was yet another significant breakthrough in this area. This procedure is a little different than other laser surgeries in that it involves removing a very thin, wafer-shaped layer of tissue from the cornea in order to correct people’s nearsightedness.

“The advantages of SMILE include less dry eye, as well as a stronger overall cornea that is less vulnerable to injury,” says Dr. William W. Culbertson, an ophthalmologist at Bascom Palmer LASIK and Laser Vision Center, part of the University of Miami Health System.

Research makes the difference

When Zeiss International first sought FDA approval of this procedure a few years ago, the Bascom Palmer was one of five eye centers across the nation that they reached out to. More than 50 patients at Bascom Palmer received the corrective treatment for their nearsightedness, all with impressive results. It ultimately led to the FDA approval of the cutting edge procedure. “To date, more than 1.5 million people around the world have now received the procedure to treat their nearsightedness,” says Dr. Culbertson.

When the ReLEx SMILE procedure was initially approved, it was for patients with nearsightedness who did not have astigmatism. However, this most recent FDA approval means that the procedure is now approved for patients with astigmatism, as well. Dr. Culbertson says this is a significant approval, as there are many patients out there who have both nearsightedness and astigmatism.

“It’s important because what it does for patients is provide yet another viable option for helping them correct their vision in the way that is best for them,” says Dr. Culbertson. “There are now a lot of options — we have six lasers in total — and the patient is going to be the winner in that situation by getting exactly what they need.”

State-of-the-Art Technology

Bascom Palmer has every FDA-approved vision-correction device available, and has performed studies for FDA-approval on nearly all of those devices. Also, Bascom Palmer is one of the few facilities using next-generation femtosecond laser for LASIK procedures. We customize treatments to give patients different options within each type of surgical correction. The best procedure for patients depends on many factors, including your profession, lifestyle, visual expectations, medical and anatomic issues, and the type and amount of your refractive error.

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Choosing a university-based health care provider opens the door to the latest techniques and technologies. Bascom Palmer doctors don’t just correct vision — they train other physicians to perform the techniques and they research treatment methods and technologies. Bascom Palmer has also pioneered the use of several groundbreaking technologies, including laser thermal keratoplasty (LTK), an alternative for those who can't have excimer laser treatment.

To learn more about Bascom Palmer’s LASIK and Laser Vision Center, click here.

If you’d like to learn more about the ReLEx SMILE procedure, schedule an appointment with Bascom Palmer or visit Zeiss’s website.


Wyatt Myers is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News.