LASIK vs. SMILE Eye Surgery: Which Should You Choose?

Last year, an estimated 157 million people experienced significant vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors. Refractive errors can affect any age or ethnic group and tend to be the main cause of vision impairment.

The only way to correct refractive errors is with eye surgery. LASIK eye surgery has been around for a few decades, but SMILE eye surgery has been taking the world by storm.

Wondering about the differences between LASIK vs. SMILE eye surgery? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

LASIK vs. SMILE Eye Surgery: The Basics

LASIK and SMILE eye surgery are both laser procedures used to improve refractive errors. Before these procedures were available, doctors used scalpels to make incisions and reshape the cornea – also known as Radial Keratotomy (RK) surgery. But now with  modern laser technology, we can correct patients’ vision more precisely and with fewer negative effects.

The basics of LASIK vs. SMILE eye procedures are explained below:

SMILE Basics

SMILE is actually an acronym for SMall Incision Lenticule Extraction. It is a newer procedure than LASIK and is the fastest-growing laser vision correction surgery (LVC). There have been over 4 million SMILE surgeries completed worldwide.

SMILE eye surgery was first approved by the FDA in 2016, and is used to treat myopia and nearsightedness. It requires a smaller incision than LASIK surgery, so fewer nerves are affected. This reduces the risk of dry eye symptoms after the procedure.

In contrast to LASIK, SMILE surgery uses only one laser while LASIK requires two. More about this later…

It is less invasive than LASIK because no flap is created in the cornea for reshaping. This means you won’t have to stress about flap complications after SMILE surgery. You will be able to get back to your normal activities the very next day.  So go ahead and work out, swim, wash your hair, apply eye make-up – all your usual routines with no restrictions from day one.

LASIK Basics

LASIK stands for LASer-assisted In Situ Keratomileusis and requires the use of two distinct lasers. One laser is used during this eye surgery to make a small flap in the cornea. This flap is then lifted and a second laser is used to remove corneal tissue. The cornea is then reshaped so it can refract light to the retina correctly.

Topical numbing eye drops are used as a local anesthetic during the procedure. After the procedure, it is recommended you refrain from certain activities such as swimming and intense exercise, and let your eyes heal for one to two weeks. Some people can get back to work the very next day.

LASIK can correct any type of refractive error including far-sightedness, near-sightedness, and astigmatism.

Laser Eye Surgery Process

Regarding time and costs in the LASIK vs. SMILE debate, each take approximately 10 minutes and cost about the same. 

The process of choosing between SMILE or LASIK eye surgery  begins with your initial consultation. During that visit, a thorough eye exam will be performed including the performance of various corneal tests. All results are thoroughly evaluated, and we will make a recommendation as to which procedure is better for you. In many instances, you will qualify for both. 

As a refresher, LASIK uses two lasers to create a flap while SMILE uses one laser and does not make a flap.

Following either procedure, you should rest your eyes at home for the rest of that day. The healing process for SMILE eye surgery is shorter as you can resume your normal activities the very next day, whereas with LASIK you may need to wait a week or two depending on the activity. You will be prescribed two different eye drops for use after the surgery – one is an antibiotic and the other is a topical anti-inflammatory eye drop. 

There are similar side effects to each procedure including halos or glares around lights and trouble with vision in low light areas for about 4-6 weeks until the inflammation resolves. You may experience dry eye but it is less common with SMILE eye surgery.

Are You a Candidate for These Eye Surgery Options?

Ultimately, it will be up to your doctor to decide if you are a candidate for either of these eye surgery options.

The biggest difference between SMILE and LASIK eye surgery is that LASIK can treat all refractive errors. SMILE only treats myopia with or without astigmatism. LASIK or SMILE: Which Is Better?

When comparing LASIK vs. SMILE eye surgery, there are a lot of similarities and subtle differences to take into account. Someone with a refractive error may not be a candidate for one procedure over the other.

Someone who is a candidate for both should take this guide into account to make a knowledgeable decision.

You may find one laser, shorter healing times, and newer technology to be the more attractive option. In this case, you would choose SMILE eye surgery. However, not all refractive errors can be corrected with SMILE.

Whichever route you choose, Goel Vision has you covered. Request an appointment with us today to learn more about our vision correction procedures.

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