It is now possible to correct myopia and astigmatism acting on the inside of the cornea without needing to open a circular layer on its surface thanks to the latest laser technology in corneal refractive surgery (Lasik). This is the Relex SMILE technique (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) that uses the femtosecond laser and allows the surgeon to modify the cornea's optical power through a 2mm microincision. “This development is a spectacular leap forward in this surgery since it replaces a cut measuring 20mm in diameter with an incision ten times smaller, making this technique the least invasive and safest for correcting graduation”, according to Dr. José Luis Güell, head of the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Department at IMO, one of the few centres to participate in a multicentre European study to assess the benefits of this new technique. In a year and a half, IMO has used this procedure on a hundred patients with excellent results. For the specialist, "the new technique is a radical change that eliminates the main side effects of lasik surgery such as the risk of displacement of the open superficial layer during the procedure and dry eye”.
The Relex SMILE technique exclusively uses the femtosecond laser, the latest technological breakthrough in corneal surgery. This laser is the most precise in ocular surgery and allows the surgeon to mark out, from the outside of the eye, the intracorneal lens or portion of the cornea that needs to be extracted to correct the refractive error. Once this lens has been applied, the same femtosecond laser is used to make a 2mm microincision on one side of the cornea, from where the surgeon removes the previously marked out internal lens. “Another of the benefits of Relex SMILE is that the whole procedure can be performed with a single laser”, explains IMO specialist. To perform this same surgery, conventional lasik techniques open a flap on the corneal surface as an opening from which to access the inside of the cornea.
This cut is now made with the femtosecond laser. After correcting the graduation inside the cornea, which uses another laser, the Excimer (less precise than the femtosecond laser), this flap is put back in place. The procedure alters the corneal surface and makes it more susceptible to contusions or friction, which may cause this flap to move from its axis. In addition, making a cut on the surface of the cornea means that the superficial nerve endings are cut, which can cause associated dry eye symptoms. “With the new technique both side effects completely disappear meaning that the procedure is likely to replace those used up to now", confirms Dr Güell.
See the repercussions of this publication in other media: - Canal Salud de La Vanguardia, 27 de mayo 2013