New, less invasive eye surgery helping more San Diegans see

Posted at 6:52 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-15 21:52:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A new, less invasive eye surgery is helping people get their vision back.

The procedure is called SMILE and is short for small incision lenticule extraction. While newly approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, the technology has been used around the world for years.

Right now, only a handful of California surgeons are doing the procedure.

Dr. Sandy T. Feldman, Medical Director at Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center, is one of them.

"For me, it's the next revolution in vision correction options for my patients and I'm really excited to be able to offer that to my patients right here in San Diego, now," said Dr. Feldman.

She says not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK and that's where SMILE comes in.

It's approved for people who are nearsighted or have astigmatism. It's also a good option for people with very dry eyes, other corneal surface issues or who play contact sports.

"My job is to make the best recommendation for the patient based upon their eyes, the activities that they do and which procedure is best for them," said Dr. Feldman.

Unlike LASIK, only one laser is used and it creates a smaller incision. Dr. Feldman says recovery is also less painful for patients.

She says it's already improving the quality of life for patients like Michelle Plumb.

"I could see my alarm clock when I first woke up, and I could see across the room," remembers Plumb. "I could see the TV and I could see my kid's faces."

Like LASIK, SMILE is an elective procedure that is not covered by insurance.