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Indian J Ophthalmol. 2018 Jan;66(1):10-19. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_761_17.

Refractive lenticule extraction small incision lenticule extraction: A new refractive surgery paradigm.

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Department of Phaco-Refractive, Nethradhama Superspeciality Eye Hospital, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.


Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE), a variant of refractive lenticule extraction technology is becoming increasingly popular, as a flapless and minimally invasive form of laser vision correction (LVC) for the treatment of myopia and myopic astigmatism. This review aims at summarizing the principles, surgical technique, and clinical outcomes in terms of visual and refractive results, safety, efficacy, postoperative dry eye, aberrations, and biomechanics of SMILE and its comparison with other conventional techniques of LVC, such as laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). Recent advancements in the laser frequency and energy delivery patterns, instrumentation, and surgical techniques have shown significant improvement in the visual recovery and outcomes after SMILE, compared to the initial results published by Sekundo and Shah et al. Most of the recently published literature on long-term outcomes of SMILE shows excellent stability of the procedure, especially for higher myopia. In terms of the postoperative dry eye, SMILE shows a clear advantage over LASIK as numerous studies have shown significant differences about the Schirmer's, Tear film break up time, corneal sensitivity, and corneal nerve regeneration to be better following SMILE compared to LASIK. There is some evidence that since the Bowman's membrane (BM) and the anterior lamellae remain intact after SMILE, this may be a potential advantage for corneal biomechanics over LASIK and PRK where the BM is either severed or ablated, respectively, however, the data on biomechanics are inconclusive at present. Overall, this procedure has proved to be promising, delivering equivalent, or better visual and refractive results to LASIK and providing clear advantage in terms of being a flapless, minimally invasive procedure with minimal pain and postoperative discomfort thus offering high patient satisfaction.

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