Aucklanders to Benefit from Million Dollar Keyhole Surgical Laser

Aucklanders to Benefit from Million Dollar Keyhole Surgical Laser

27 January 2015, 4:14PM
Impact PR

A new, less invasive laser surgery technique could allow more Kiwis to benefit from corrective surgery according to some of the country’s top ophthalmologists.

The technique, called SMILE (SMall Incision Lenticule Extraction), offers patients a less invasive and quicker alternative to LASIK, and with an expected reduced risk of dry eye issues after the surgery.

Kiwi ophthalmologist Dr Dean Corbett says Auckland Eye has invested $1million in new laser equipment to deliver SMILE to patients, and will be the first in Auckland to do so.

The surgery utilises a state-of-the-art femtosecond laser to create a lenticule within the cornea, which is removed through a keyhole incision - a process which takes just 25 seconds per eye, and removes the need for people to wear glasses or contact lenses again to assist their vision.

Dr Corbett says the procedure may help eliminate fears or concerns that have held some Kiwis back from having their vision corrected in the past.

“Fear is a big part of why many people do not seek out this kind of surgery, especially fear around a corneal flap being created,” says Dr Corbett, a specialist in laser vision correction at Auckland Eye. “SMILE is a flap-less, keyhole surgery, so that eliminates a real barrier for some people.”

The procedure is also expected to reduce uncomfortable dry eye discomfort that some patients face after having laser eye surgery, says fellow ophthalmologist Dr Justin Mora, although research is yet to be completed on the issue.

“Most people need to use moisturising eye drops for a few days, or even a few weeks after laser treatment, which isn’t a big deal, but is a hassle” he explains. “However, because SMILE has less of an effect on the corneal nerves, there should also be less of that discomfort, especially for those pre-disposed to dry eye problems.”

Other advantages of the new technique include a quicker return to sports for active people after the surgery, and the ability to get better results for patients with higher prescriptions who may have been told LASIK wasn’t a suitable option for them.

“I think it will appeal to a lot of people, particularly active people who play contact sport and may previously have been worried about the possible displacement of the corneal flap; and people in their 40s and 50s who are more likely to suffer from dry eye issues,” says Dr Mora.

Dr Corbett says a small number of Kiwis would have previously travelled overseas to get the SMILE treatment, but could now access it closer to home, and for a small cost when compared to the expense of buying new glasses every few years for a lifetime.

“The most common trigger for people coming in to find out about laser vision correction is a pair of broken glasses,” he says. “When they start to add up the costs and look at that long-term, it makes sense to look at correcting their vision once and for all.”

SMILE is available for those with myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism, and will achieve a result of 20:20 or 6:6 vision for 95-98% of patients.

“That standard of vision is what is required to become a pilot, so it’s very good,” explains Dr Corbett. “Some patients will get even better results - 20:15 or even 20:10 vision - without any corrective lenses.”

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