Four million eyes have now been treated globally with Zeiss Meditec’s SMILE procedure, helping cement the company’s dominance in the laser vision correction segment where it holds 27% market share.
The procedure – officially known as small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) – was first performed in 2007 by Professor Walter Sekundo on a sighted patient and has been commercially available since 2011.
In reaching the new milestone, the company stated that more than 2,500 practising surgeons in 80 countries now offer the surgery, including 13 centres in Australia. More than 1,300 units of the VisuMax femtosecond laser – used for the procedure – have also been built.
The company reported most SMILE users have done more lenticule extractions than other laser vision correction procedures, with the flapless surgery on the way to becoming the dominant laser correction method in some countries.
SMILE is one of Zeiss’s latest vision correction procedures, with its portfolio also including photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK), and Presbyond for presbyopes.
Citing the Market Scope Refractive Report 2020, Zeiss states it is market leader in the laser vision correction segment with 27.5% market share, followed by other major players such as Alcon (19.1%) and Johnson & Johnson Vision (17.9%).
During SMILE, ophthalmologists correct patients’ refractive errors using VisuMax. With the laser, surgeons create a thin disc-shaped lenticule within the cornea which is then removed through a small incision on the surface of the cornea, achieving the desired vision correction.
According to Zeiss, it requires only one laser to perform the entire treatment, and due to the small incision, the surgery leaves the outer corneal layer largely intact. This potentially contributes to the cornea’s stability after surgery — both biomechanical and refractive — and to fast visual recovery.