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.”
Wyatt Myers is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News.