Background: Small incision lenticule extraction or SMILE is a novel form of 'flapless' corneal refractive surgery that was adapted from refractive lenticule extraction (ReLEx). SMILE uses only one femtosecond laser to complete the refractive surgery, potentially reducing surgical time, side effects, and cost. If successful, SMILE could potentially replace the current, widely practiced laser in-situ keratomileusis or LASIK. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether SMILE is non-inferior to LASIK in terms of refractive outcomes at 3 months post-operatively.
Methods/design: Single tertiary center, parallel group, single-masked, paired-eye design, non-inferiority, randomized controlled trial. Participants who are eligible for LASIK will be enrolled for study after informed consent. Each participant will be randomized to receive SMILE and LASIK in each eye. Our primary hypothesis (stated as null) in this non-inferiority trial would be that SMILE differs from LASIK in adults (>21 years old) with myopia (> -3.00 diopter (D)) at a tertiary eye center in terms of refractive predictability at 3 months post-operatively. Our secondary hypothesis (stated as null) in this non-inferiority trial would be that SMILE differs from LASIK in adults (>21 years old) with myopia (> -3.00 D) at a tertiary eye center in terms of other refractive outcomes (efficacy, safety, higher-order aberrations) at 3 months post-operatively. Our primary outcome is refractive predictability, which is one of several standard refractive outcomes, defined as the proportion of eyes achieving a postoperative spherical equivalent (SE) within ±0.50 D of the intended target. Randomization will be performed using random allocation sequence generated by a computer with no blocks or restrictions, and implemented by concealing the number-coded surgery within sealed envelopes until just before the procedure. In this single-masked trial, subjects and their caregivers will be masked to the assigned treatment in each eye.
Discussion: This novel trial will provide information on whether SMILE has comparable, if not superior, refractive outcomes compared to the established LASIK for myopia, thus providing evidence for translation into clinical practice.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01216475.