Dr. Andrew Caster
Smile Lasik, also known as ReLex Smile, is the newest version of laser vision correction. Smile, which stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, consists of one painless laser step lasting less than 30 seconds. As with all types of laser vision correction, you are able to get up from the treatment and see an immediate improvement, though final vision (as with all types of laser vision correction) takes about three months.
Smile Lasik is performed with the VisuMax laser, created by Zeiss. The VisuMax laser technology is truly amazing.The laser creates 500,000 tiny spots every second.These spots are placed very close to each other and free up a thin layer (similar to a contact lens) within the center of the cornea. The laser also creates a small tunnel connecting the thin layer to the outside of the eye. The doctor then reaches in through the tunnel, frees up the thin lens, and pulls it out. Removal of this thin lens changes the curvature of the eye, correcting the focus of the vision.
Smile Lasik can only be achieved with the VisuMax laser by Zeiss. Only this laser has the necessary precision to perform this procedure. At the Caster Eye Center, we use the VisuMax laser not only to perform Smile, but also to perform the first step of the all-laser Lasik procedure. Because this laser places so little pressure on the eye, treatment with this laser is pain-free. (For our engineer types, the VisuMax laser is the only femtosecond laser that is opto-electronic; all other femtosecond lasers are opto-mechanical in design.)
Smile Lasik has some advantages and disadvantages compared to all-laser, wavefront Lasik.
- There is no flap with Smile Lasik. The treatment is performed completely within the interior of the cornea, so there is no flap at all. Patients do not have to worry about a flap that can be moved or disturbed in the future. You do not need to use goggles to protect your eyes during the initial few days after this procedure.
- There is a little less short-term dryness with Smile Lasik. Because there is no flap, fewer of the corneal nerves are affected, leading to less short-term dryness. You therefore need to use less moisturizing drops during the initial healing after the procedure.
- The return to excellent vision is sometimes slower with Smile than with Lasik, though typically faster than with PRK. Lasik patients typically see 20/20 without glasses the very next day, while Smile patients sometimes take several days, or in rare cases, several weeks for 20/20 vision. Full vision recovery, as with all forms of laser vision correction, takes about three months.
- Enhancement (fine-tuning procedure) of Smile Lasik cannot be performed with Smile, but must be performed with the slower healing PRK laser treatment. Enhancements are performed in about 4% of patients.
Smile Lasik is one option that we offer our patients to create excellent vision and eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses. At the Caster Eye Center, we specialize exclusively in all versions of Lasik laser vision correction. As one of the very few practices that specializes exclusively in this subspecialty, we have the expertise, technology, trained staff, and superb doctor to bring you the best vision possible. You will notice the detailed knowledge and compassion each time you interact with us. You will also be meeting with Dr. Caster each and every time you come to our office, from the first consultation through your procedure and all of your post-treatment visits.
FAQ about Smile Lasik
Q. What does the name Smile stand for? What does ReLex stand for?
A. Smile is shorthand for “Small Incision Lenticular Extraction”. ReLex is shorthand for “Refractive Lenticular Extraction”. Both of these names refer to the small lens, or lenticule, which is removed from the central part of the cornea.
Q. Can anyone have Smile Lasik?
A. No. Only certain prescriptions are suitable for Smile. Dr. Caster will determine and discuss your suitability during your personal consultation with him.
Q. How do the results of Smile compare to Lasik?
A. The vision results are equivalent to the results obtained with all-laser, wavefront Lasik.
Q. What is the recovery from Smile?
A. Patients walk out of the laser room immediately after Smile and are able to drive and go to work the very next day. However, the return to 20/20 vision is often slower with Smile than with Lasik. Most Lasik patients experience 20/20 vision the very next day, while with some Smile patients this can take several days or even weeks.
Q. Does Smile hurt?
A. This is a pain-free procedure.