SMILE vs LASIK: What Is the Difference?

smile vs lasik

Break Down of LASIK vs SMILE

Wondering what the difference is between LASIK vs SMILE? Determine which laser vision correction procedure is right for you. 

You’re ready to begin an exciting new life with less dependence on contacts and glasses, but do you know which laser vision correction procedure is right for you? Understanding the different types of laser vision correction procedures can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

When people think of laser eye surgery, LASIK may be the first procedure to come to mind. However, even if you are a candidate for LASIK, there may be other procedures that are more suitable for your lifestyle. Laser eye surgery has evolved over the years, and at Clear Choice, we’ve made it our goal to be at the forefront of innovation. This mindset has allowed us to provide you with the widest range of vision correction options possible.

Those who seek laser vision correction may find that SMILE is a great alternative. The SMILE procedure has been available in Europe for more than 10 years and has recently gained popularity in the US. While both SMILE and LASIK result in a reduced dependence on glasses and contact lenses, one procedure might be a better fit for you than the other. We advise that you speak with a doctor who is trained in both technologies and treatments, like the surgeons at Clear Choice, so that they can give you a well-informed, holistic perspective on which option is best for your eyes.

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What is LASIK? 

LASIK is a non-invasive eye surgery that uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea’s top layer. First, the surgeon will create a thin flap of the tissue on the eye’s top surface. The flap is then lifted to expose the cornea’s inner layer. The flap can be created either with an oscillating blade, called a microkeratome, or other laser types such as the IntraLase or VisuMax. From there, the excimer reshapes the underlying corneal tissue to correct any irregularities. Once complete, the corneal flap is set back in place and will naturally bond to the treated cornea.  

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SMILE Incision Diagram

What is SMILE? 

SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is one of the latest and most innovative laser vision correction developments. During this minimally invasive procedure, the doctor uses a femtosecond laser to create a high-precision, thin circular disk of tissue called a lenticule. The doctor will then remove a small incision in the cornea. Unlike LASIK, there is no flap creation. With SMILE, the patient’s prescription is imprinted inside the cornea.

Comparing SMILE vs. LASIK

Although the procedures differ from one another, they both aim to improve vision and provide long-term satisfaction. Both SMILE and LASIK procedures take about 10-15 minutes for both eyes. Both surgeries use state-of-the-art laser technology to make surgery effective and as noninvasive as possible. They both result in less dependence on glasses or contact lenses, and patients typically start to notice immediate results – sometimes within a few hours of the painless surgery.

Here’s a closer look at the differences between LASIK vs SMILE. 

lasik eye surgeryDifferences between SMILE and LASIK Procedures

The biggest difference between the procedures is that SMILE is flapless, whereas LASIK involves two steps: flap creation and ablation of the cornea. The ablation is the part of the procedure where the laser is used to reshape the cornea.   With SMILE, the incision in the eye is 4mm, whereas LASIK’s incision is 22mm. A smaller incision typically means less healing (a good analogy is an arthroscopic, micro-incision approach versus an “open,” large incision approach to knee surgery).

SMILE uses the VisuMax laser to make small incisions in the eye, which minimizes invasiveness. Additionally, SMILE can be a better option than LASIK for patients who participate in high contact sports.  Because the procedure is flapless, the patient is at a smaller risk of corneal issues in the case of an eye injury. 

Unlike with LASIK surgery, most patients do not need to wear eye shields at night following a SMILE surgery and can wear eye makeup the very next day.  Surgeons ask patients not to rub the eyes hard or swim for a couple of weeks after the procedure with both SMILE and LASIK, but typically, SMILE gives patients a head start on getting back to their normal, active lives.  

Currently, in the US, SMILE can treat myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism, while LASIK has been approved to treat myopia, astigmatism, and hyperopia (farsightedness).  There are certain prescriptions that may be better suited for SMILE or LASIK, and your qualified provider can help guide you toward the best option. 

As with any surgery, there are disadvantages and potential risks. SMILE and LASIK share some risk factors: irregular astigmatism, inflammation, and dry eye are potential risks of both procedures. However, these potential risks have a very low probability of occurring. The best way to minimize these risks is to consult with an expert physician before any procedure and to follow the instructions given to you during recovery.

How Do I Know Which Procedure Is Right for Me?

A comprehensive, extremely thorough eye exam and a free consultation with one of our highly trained staff and doctors can determine which procedure is right for you. At Clear Choice, we have a skilled team of professionals and state-of-the-art testing technology to run a multitude of tests on your eyes to make the best decision. A valuable part of the consultation and pre-operative surgery is the highly-personalized conversation that we have with each patient.  A patient’s goals, profession, and lifestyle are all important factors in the doctor’s recommendation.  Our evaluations leave no stone unturned as we pride ourselves on thoroughly vetting our patients’ candidacies for the right laser eye treatment.

Visit our LASIK Eye Center in Cleveland, OH

We offer a wide array of options, including SMILE, LASIK, PRK, Implantable Collamer Lenses (ICL), Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), etc., to help patients become less dependent on their glasses and contact lenses. Vision problems aren’t fun to navigate. That’s why Clear Choice provides the clarity and optionality you need to make the right eye care decisions. And if it turns out that you have a vision problem that requires a different solution, know that Clear Choice is part of the Cleveland Eye Clinic and can correct nearly any problem you may have with your eyes

Start your journey to improved vision! Take the self-test to determine which eye procedure is right for you. You’ll quickly receive results that will help you choose the best eye care solution.

For better vision, tomorrow, take the self-test today and schedule a free consultation!

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