SMILE is a new procedure that was FDA-approved in 2018. But Dr. Chynn did his first SMILE procedure while at ASCRS in Europe in 2016!
SMILE involves cutting a "pocket" in the cornea, and removing a small piece of cornea (called a "lenticle"), after which the cornea collapses onto itself, which results in the cornea flattening. This is the same way that laser vision correction works, except that the laser is used to vaporize microscopic amounts of cornea to achieve the same effect (either on the surface with the older PRK procedure, or with the more modern LASEK and epi-LASEK procedures).
SMILE has the advantage of cutting less corneal nerves than in LASIK or i-LASIK or "bladeless" LASIK or femtosecond LASIK, so your eyes should be less dry than after those other cutting procedures. However, no corneal nerves are cut in the old surface procedure PRK or the more advanced surface procedures LASEK or epi-LASEK (also known as epi-LASIK), so if you have dry eyes, you should probably not get any nerves cut at all, so you aren't more dry afterwards.
Recovery time after SMILE is longer than after the other traditional cutting procedures (LASIK, i-LASIK, IntraLase, femtosecond LASIK, "bladeless" LASIK), but is shorter than after the slightly safer surface procedures (the archaic PRK and modern LASEK/epiLASEK procedures).
SMILE can only reliably treat low myopia (-3.00 or less) and small amounts of astigmatism (-1.00 or less), and cannot treat hyperopia or farsightedness (if your prescriptions is +).
Because, like LASEK and epiLASEK, SMILE is a more modern procedure than LASIK, it usually costs a bit more (typically a few hundred dollars more per eye). However, like with LASEK and epi-LASIK, patients are willing to pay more for SMILE because although recovery is longer than LASIK, you avoid dry eyes after their procedure.
If you're interested in SMILE, please call, text, or email us and we will be happy to set up a Free Consultation, where we have one of our MD PhDs carefully examine your eyes (unlike other centers who use "techs" or optometrists (ODs) for this purpose who never went to medical school) and then determine which of these many procedures is best for your eyes and your specific needs (i.e. the mix of safety, recovery time, dry eyes, large pupils, corneal thickness, prescription parameters, need or desire to see better than 20/20, contraindications such as irregular astigmatism or forme fruste keratoconus, playing contact sports, night driving needs, etc.).