I’ve had to wear glasses since I was 17, and have always been a little self conscious about them. As I approached my 40th birthday, I was wearing them every day. I tried so many pairs – from trendy metal rims to dark frames, but nothing seemed to really suit me. So when I heard about the SMILE laser eye surgical treatment from Optegra, I was intrigued. Would it be the confidence boost I needed?
SMILE is one of the most recent forms of laser eye surgery. It is a minimally invasive, bladeless form of keyhole laser eye surgery, offering a great alternative to the more traditional LASEK and LASIK treatments.
The treatment can correct higher degrees of myopia (short sightedness), and is suitable for individuals with or without astigmatism (where the eye is shaped like a rugby ball rather than football, which affects focusing power).
I went to see Mr Amir Hamid, ophthalmic surgeon at Optegra Queen Anne Street London. There he told me the clinic had the latest version of the Visumax Laser (VM800), which has shortened the laser time from 27 seconds to 9s. This, he assured me, was the SMILE Pro treatment, making it even more speedy and comfortable for the patient while also improving the results.
Excited, I signed up. So what did the process entail?
*The surgeon will speak to the patient and explain to them what their experience will be during the laser treatment
*Numbing drops are instilled into both eyes so the patient cannot feel any discomfort during the procedure
*Based on the thorough pre-op diagnostic tests, the surgeon has already worked out all the measurements and specifics of the patient’s eye, to ensure the laser adjusts the focusing power perfectly for that individual’s eyes. These parameters are entered into computer software to precisely calculate the laser delivery required for the treatment.
*SMILE is one of the quickest laser eye surgery procedures, around 2 minutes per eye in total
*The patient simply has to lie still. The untreated eye is covered. The eye undergoing treatment is held opened gently using an eye speculum.
*The patient is asked to focus on a green flashing light and the laser is applied for 9s.
*The state-of-the-art laser then places a series of pulses in the centre of the cornea (top surface of the eye), with extraordinary 3D accuracy. These pulses form bubbles that are less than 1/100th the width of a human hair, and which outline the tissue that needs to be removed to change the shape of the cornea.
*The laser then creates a tiny connecting tunnel through which the surgeon draws out this tissue.
*The procedure takes a matter of minutes, and the vision is 80% better within a few hours.
*After the procedure drops are sued for 2 weeks to prevent infection and allow a smooth healing process.
*With SMILE, no flap is created, so the eye is more comfortable postoperatively than other laser eye surgery techniques.
*This also makes the cornea more stable compared to other laser eye surgery, and so this is often the treatment of choice for people with active lifestyles and those playing contact sports etc
*After a few days, the vision is excellent, and it reaches 100% within a few weeks (according to trials conducted on over 1,000 patients between the UK, Germany, France and Denmark).
*Patients can expect a quick recovery time with SMILE laser eye surgery; however, it is completely normal if your vision is blurry for a little longer after you have had the procedure.
*It is important that patients rest after surgery. Those who have SMILE surgery cannot drive for the 24 hours immediately following the procedure and some sources of light, such as TVs, mobile phones and other screens, should be avoided. More regular usage can be resumed approximately 2-3 days after SMILE laser eye surgery.
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And my verdict?
I’m over the moon. I felt calm and safe going into the procedure, and was reassured at every step of the way. The treatment itself took about five minutes of work on each eye, with less than 10 seconds of laser. I couldn’t believe how fast it was! Straight after, my eyes felt a little teary, but not painful. I got a taxi back home to rest and en route my eyes began to feel sensitive and weep. The sensation felt like when you’re just about to sneeze.
The next day, I went back for a post op check, and Amir told me things looked good – I was so pleased. Over the next month I had to use various sets of eye drops daily to keep my eyes lubricated, healthy and healing.
My vision is incomparable to how it was before. Straight away after surgery I noticed I could see clearly, and as my eyes healed over the following days it got better and better.
Now, I have 20/20 vision and I couldn’t be happier. My glasses have been consigned to the bin and at 40 I am more confident than ever.
*Price for SMILE at Optegra starts from £2,495 per eye, for more information click here
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