Smile Eye Surgery Halo Effect

For millions seeking freedom from glasses or contacts, laser vision correction offers a life-changing solution. Among the latest advancements is SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction), a minimally invasive procedure promising improved vision and faster healing.

However, like any surgery, SMILE comes with potential side effects, one of which is the “halo effect” – the appearance of light distortions around bright objects.

This article delves into the details of SMILE, explores the halo effect in-depth, and empowers you to make informed decisions about your vision correction journey.


SMILE: A Closer Look

SMILE uses a Visumax 500 femtosecond laser to form a thin corneal tissue layer within the eye known as a lenticule. Subsequently, this layer is removed through a small incision, reshaping the cornea and addressing vision issues such as nearsightedness and astigmatism.

Compared to traditional methods like LASIK, SMILE boasts several advantages:

  • Minimally Invasive:
    The tiny incision reduces the risk of complications and promotes faster healing.
  • Reduced Dry Eye:
    Preserving more corneal nerves minimises the likelihood of post-operative dry eye, a significant concern for many patients.
  • Enhanced Biomechanical Stability:
    The procedure maintains more of the cornea’s natural structure, potentially leading to improved long-term stability and vision quality.


The Enigma Of The Halo Effect

The halo effect describes the phenomenon of bright circles surrounding light sources, shiny objects, or brightly coloured items when viewed directly or within one’s visual field. This effect intensifies when gazing at intense lights such as oncoming headlights during the night. It is a typical occurrence following different laser vision correction surgeries, including SMILE.

Some individuals perceive halos around objects such as street lights or the flicker of a candle flame.

Some individuals may also encounter glares and starbursts. Glare manifests as light appearing unusually bright, resembling beams of light, while starbursts take on a different form. Starbursts do not encircle lights like typical glares; instead, they present as a radiant glow dispersing around the light source.


Does It happen?

While the exact cause is still being investigated, several factors may contribute to this phenomenon:

  • Corneal Healing:
    As the cornea heals, it adapts to its new shape, temporarily impacting how light enters the eye.
  • Nerve Sensitivity:
    Variances in nerve sensitivity within the cornea can affect one’s susceptibility to halos and glares.
  • Treatment Zone Size:
    A larger treated area can heighten the likelihood of perceiving halos due to extensive corneal reshaping.


How Common Is It After SMILE?

Studies indicate that around 5% of SMILE patients experience halos, a lower rate compared to other procedures like LASIK, where the incidence can reach 10% or more.

However, it’s crucial to remember that individual experiences vary greatly. Some patients report minimal or no glare, while others may experience more noticeable halos, particularly in low-light conditions.


How Long Does It Last?

The good news is that halos are typically temporary. In most cases, they fade within the first few weeks as the eye heals and adjusts to the new corneal shape. However, for a small percentage of patients, halos may persist longer, requiring additional consultation with your ophthalmologist.


What Can You Do?

While halos are temporary for most, managing them during the initial healing phase can significantly improve comfort and visual quality. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Embrace Sunglasses:
    Protect your eyes from bright light, especially outdoors, as sunlight can exacerbate glare. Choose sunglasses with polarised lenses for enhanced filtering of bothersome reflections.
  • Limit Night Driving:
    To safeguard your vision until it stabilises and halos fade, refrain from driving at night or in dim lighting. Explore other transportation options or modify your schedule to lessen nighttime driving. Alternatively, consider using night lenses to combat glare and halos.
  • Combat Dry Eye:
    Use lubricating eye drops as recommended by your doctor to address any dryness and discomfort that can contribute to glare.
  • Follow Your Doctor’s Guidance:
    Regular follow-up appointments are crucial to monitor your healing progress, assess any persistent halos, and adjust your treatment plan if necessary.


Beyond SMILE: Comparing Options In Vision Correction

SMILE, while offering advantages over procedures like LASIK in terms of halo risk, is not a universal solution. Each vision correction technique presents unique benefits and limitations based on your specific needs and preferences. It is crucial to consult with an experienced ophthalmologist specialising in refractive surgery to identify the most suitable option for your case.

Factors to consider during your consultation include:

  • Vision Prescription:
    The severity and type of your vision error will determine the most appropriate procedures.
  • Corneal Health:
    The thickness and overall health of your cornea are vital in determining your eligibility for different procedures.
  • Lifestyle and Preferences:
    Take into account your daily activities, hobbies, and desired level of visual clarity when making your decision.


Making An Informed Choice For Clear Vision

SMILE presents a promising laser vision correction method offering advantages such as quicker healing and decreased dry eye symptoms. Despite the potential for a halo effect, the occurrence rate is lower compared to alternative procedures. While halos are typically temporary, understanding and managing this possibility is crucial when considering SMILE.

It’s important to note that SMILE isn’t the sole option available, as individual needs vary. Seeking guidance from a skilled ophthalmologist for a thorough assessment is essential. They can evaluate your suitability for SMILE and compare it with alternatives like LASIK, PRK, or implantable lenses.

Ultimately, selecting a vision correction method is a personal decision. By carefully weighing the benefits and risks of SMILE, including the chance of halos, against other choices and your unique circumstances, you can confidently choose the path toward clearer vision and a glasses-free life.

Additional Tips:

  • Obtain information from trusted sources like reputable medical associations and organisations.
  • Have open and honest discussions with your ophthalmologist about any concerns or questions you may have.
  • Avoid rushing into decisions. Take the necessary time to gather information, weigh your options, and make a decision that aligns with your comfort.

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