What is SMILE Eye Surgery?

SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) eye surgery provides the benefits of LASIK while utilizing new and advanced refractive laser technology. However, SMILE achieves your vision correction in an improved, state-of-the-art way, making it a great alternative choice for patients who may not be a candidate for traditional laser vision corrective surgery. At our Houston based clinic, we focus on using SMILE laser surgery to correct nearsightedness and astigmatism. The SMILE surgery takes about 10 minutes to perform and our Houston eye doctors are experienced with conducting the SMILE procedure quickly and comfortably.

 What Are The Benefits Of SMILE?

  • Specifically engineered to treat nearsightedness and astigmatism
  • Uses a smaller incision, so it’s less invasive
  • No need to create a corneal flap, unlike LASIK
  • Quick procedure with little to no discomfort (less than 10 minutes)
  • Proven safety and efficacy
  • Fewer side-effects
  • Faster healing period (within 24 hours)
  • An alternative for patients who can’t get LASIK
  • No longer need glasses

Am I A Candidate For SMILE?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the best candidates for SMILE are men and women who:

  • Are at least 22 years old
  • Have a stable eye prescription that has not changed in a year
  • Have healthy corneas and good overall eye health
  • Have nearsightedness (myopia) between -1 and -10 and astigmatism of up to three diopters
  • Have realistic expectations of results

People who are NOT candidates for SMILE include those who have:

  • Cataract(s) or glaucoma
  • Thin corneas
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • An unstable refractive error
  • A healing or immune issue
  • A history of eye infection
  • Are pregnant or nursing
  • Had a previous laser eye surgery

 How Does Smile Laser Vision Correction Work?

For optimal vision, the cornea and lens of the eye must be able to work together to focus rays of light onto the retina. However, when the cornea and lens cannot perform this action, blurred or poor vision occurs. With an advanced, minimally invasive approach, SMILE incorporates the approach of LASIK and takes it even further. Throughout a SMILE procedure, Dr. Mattioli provides the laser procedure without the need to create a flap; instead, a cool femtosecond laser makes a tiny incision on the surface of the eye and then shapes a small, contact lens-sized layer in the cornea. Once this layer is carefully removed, your cornea is reshaped and your vision corrected. As a precise, quick, and proven procedure, patients will be able to see more clearly. Since no flap is created, the incision on the surface of the eye is much smaller than with laser surgery, offering a quicker healing period.

 Smile Vision Correction Treatment Technique

Prior to the beginning of the procedure, an anesthetic numbing drop is placed into each eye. Next, Dr. Mattioli with place a holder between your eyelids to prevent closing while blinking during the treatment. A computer-controlled femtosecond laser is then used to place a small, precise incision in the peripheral cornea. Simultaneously, the laser creates a lenticule (tiny segment) in the mid-cornea, then removes it through the small incision. Following the removal of the corrective lenticule, the new corneal shape corrects nearsightedness and astigmatism. Typically, the entire SMILE procedure lasts less than ten minutes. The majority of our Houston, TX patients are able to return to work within 24 hours after the procedure.

 What To Expect After Your SMILE Treatment

In the days following your SMILE procedure, you may experience a minor degree of irritation, itching, eye-watering, or burning, which is normal and to be expected as your eyes heal. While some patients may notice an almost immediate improvement in their eyesight, most will see slow improvements until their optimal result is reached in a few months. Because the recovery time for a SMILE procedure is quick, chances of dry eye and other complications are typically low.

SMILE Videos

See all Videos


Smile eye surgery makes smaller incisions in the eye than other similar procedures, which allows the procedure to be completed much faster. Generally, a smile procedure only takes about ten minutes to perform.

The overall cost of this treatment will vary from one patient to another, depending on their specific circumstances. However, the average price for SMILE is about $2,000 – $3,000 per eye. Insurance companies usually consider this procedure to be cosmetic, therefore making it ineligible for coverage.

No. Before the treatment begins, our staff will numb the patient’s eyes through the use of eye drops. This will prevent the patient from feeling anything more than slight pressure throughout the entirety of the procedure.

The content on this page has either authored or reviewed by Dr. Fred Mattioli.