Mass. Eye and Ear specialists perform first SMILE procedures to correct nearsightedness

June 16, 2017
kathryn hatch performing sugery

Ophthalmologists at Mass. Eye and Ear among most experienced nationwide to offer newly FDA-approved laser vision correction technology.

Boston, Mass. — Ophthalmologists at Massachusetts Eye and Ear are now offering a new type of minimally-invasive laser vision correction, the ReLEx® SMILE procedure. FDA-approved in 2016, and with more than 750,000 procedures performed worldwide each year, SMILE is a proven laser procedure for the treatment of myopia (nearsightedness). Mass. Eye and Ear specialists are among the most experienced with the SMILE approach nationwide, and the first in New England to offer the procedure. Mass. Eye and Ear will offer the SMILE procedures at its Waltham location.

“SMILE embraces the latest in ultra-precise laser technology to gently correct vision and gives laser vision correction patients’ an alternative to LASIK,” said Kathryn M. Hatch, MD, a cornea and refractive surgeon at Mass. Eye and Ear, Waltham. “Both SMILE and LASIK can help create clearer vision and reduce or eliminate the need for eye glasses and contacts.”    

SMILE is the latest advancement in laser vision correction for the treatment of nearsightedness, providing LASIK-like outcomes in a minimally-invasive, flapless surgery. Developed by ZEISS, the procedure uses a highly focused laser light — the VisuMax® femtosecond laser — to create a thin, disc-shaped lenticule within the cornea and a small incision on the surface of the cornea through which the lenticule is subsequently removed by the surgeon.

The procedure is FDA-approved for patients who are 22 years of age or older with stable vision for the past year. 

From start to finish, the procedure takes about five minutes per eye. Most patients feel no pain during and after the surgery, and typically they are able to resume normal daily activities the next day. SMILE may also help those with dry eyes.

“Offering the most advanced technology and procedures to patients is paramount to our mission of providing premier clinical care,” said Joan W. Miller, MD, Chief of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital and the Henry Willard Williams Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “We are pleased to lead the region in bringing this latest surgical advancement in laser vision correction to our patients.”

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear 
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2016–2017 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in New England for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit

About the Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology
The Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ophthalmology ( is one of the leading and largest academic departments of ophthalmology in the nation. More than 350 full-time faculty and trainees work at nine HMS affiliate institutions, including Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Joslin Diabetes Center/Beetham Eye Institute, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, VA Maine Healthcare System, and Cambridge Health Alliance. Formally established in 1871, the department has been built upon a strong and rich foundation in medical education, research, and clinical care. Through the years, faculty and alumni have profoundly influenced ophthalmic science, medicine, and literature—helping to transform the field of ophthalmology from a branch of surgery into an independent medical specialty at the forefront of science.

Media Contact:

Suzanne Day
Media Relations Manager, Mass. Eye and Ear