Corrective eye surgery is a surprisingly ancient art. Ophthalmology, or the dedicated discipline of studying and healing the eyeball, appears in the ancient records of Babylon, and doctors in fifth century B.C. India were talented enough to reduce the impact of cataracts through corrective surgery. While methods of the past were crude, modern eye surgery has improved upon this significantly, enabling doctors to correct vision via laser since at least the early 1990’s. This technique has naturally expanded and improved over the past few decades. This year, patients in the U.K. now have access to a cutting-edge surgery that promises to be both less invasive and capable of curing even the most severe visual impairments.
With nearly 17 percent of the population requiring some form of corrective eyewear, it is unsurprising that innovations in laser eye surgery have found rewewed interest in Great Britain. The latest development in eye procedures, called ReLex Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE)or simply keyhole eye surgery, is now being offered atthe London Vision Clinic. The cutting-edge technique was developed by Carl Zeiss Meditec, a multinational medical tech company headquartered in Jena, Germany and in operation since 2002.
The procedure uses a VisuMax laser which, via precises pulses, creates tiny bubbles within the eye that measure less than 1 percent the width of a single human hair, thereby creating an outline around the corneal stroma tissue. The marked tissue is then removed by the surgeon. The removed tissue alters the shape of the cornea, thereby alleviating vision issues normally treated with glasses or contacts. Traditional laser eye surgery creates a flap to access this tissue, which can result in discomfort and a few days to heal properly. The SMILE procedure, however, is less invasive and does not require the creation of a flap to access the deeper corneal tissue, meaning a shorter healing timeline. Patients have reported being able to return to work the following day and the procedure itself can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.