With medical advancements occurring every day, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest procedures. In the case of vision correction, now entering its third generation of procedures, there are several options to consider. For many years now, LASIK surgery has been the go-to way to free yourself from glasses, but a new procedure has taken center stage: SMILE laser eye surgery. So, which procedure is best for you? In this month’s blog, we’ll be discussing the differences and benefits of both to see which would be a benefit to you. LASIK vs. SMILE. Who will win? Let’s find out.
What is SMILE Eye Surgery?
First, let’s break down what SMILE eye surgery is. SMILE, short for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, uses advanced technology developed by Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc. to reshape your cornea much like LASIK but does so with a much smaller incision. SMILE uses a femtosecond laser to sculpt a tiny, lens-shaped tissue in the eye and makes a microscopic incision on the cornea surface. The surgeon then removes the tissue, also known as a lenticule, through the incision and the cornea is altered, correcting nearsightedness as a result. With the lenticule removed, the patient will heal naturally and recover within one to two days. The procedure is quick, painless, and is trusted by ophthalmologists worldwide. In terms of technology, it’s the third generation of refractive surgery, proceeding LASIK eye surgery. This is because it’s essentially a one-step laser procedure and provides stunning results with less invasive surgery. So, now that we have an introductory understanding of what SMILE is, let’s see how it compares to LASIK and PRK.
LASIK vs. SMILE
For many years, the LASIK procedure has been the most common way to correct your vision. It can successfully treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. During the procedure, a tiny flap of corneal tissue is created with a laser, allowing the same laser to reshape your cornea. Once the corneal flap is replaced, the patient can almost immediately begin to see clearer. Visual recovery time is quick, too. Most patients can drive and return to their jobs the very next day. It’s no wonder this has become the most practiced vision correction procedure.
For those with thin corneal thickness, LASIK is not a good option since the procedure requires a flap to be made from the tissue. In fact, a certain degree of thickness is needed for the surgery to happen. People with irregularly shaped cornea may also be referred to a different procedure like SMILE. In addition, those suffering from dry eye symptoms are at risk of experiencing chronic dry eye after the procedure.
Compared to LASIK, SMILE yields a greater visual acuity on average, but perhaps the biggest difference is that it is a one-step procedure. During the procedure, an excimer laser is not needed since the operation only requires a femtosecond laser for the entire procedure. SMILE is also much less invasive compared to LASIK or PRK. A corneal flap is not required, allowing the patient to achieve clearer vision with a smaller incision. Creating a flap can strain corneal nerves, temporarily causing a lower quality of vision in some cases.
SMILE outranks LASIK in every single way except that the procedure can only be used for nearsighted individuals. As of now, the procedure is not available for those with farsightedness or astigmatism. However, nearly 40 percent of the United States population has myopia or nearsightedness and that number is growing. Additionally, the visual recovery time of SMILE is slightly longer than LASIK’s. LASIK patients can begin to see a difference almost immediately after the procedure while SMILE requires about one to two days to take effect.
What About PRK?
PRK is the first generation of laser vision correction. Much like LASIK, the procedure can treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The outside layer of your cornea, commonly referred to as the epithelium, is removed manually by the surgeon and an excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea. PRK is great for patients that have irregularly shaped or thin corneas. The procedure is also a good alternative for those who are predisposed to chronic dry eye.
The PRK procedure has quite a long visual recovery time. In fact, it takes about a week for cells to regenerate on the outer layer of the cornea. Eventually, after two to six weeks of recovery, the corneal surface will begin to smooth out which yields clearer vision. If both eyes are done at once, the patient will need to refrain from working or driving for a week. Compared to SMILE or LASIK, PRK has also been known to lead to a higher chance of discomfort after the surgery.
Find the Best Option for You
So, who do you think won in LASIK vs SMILE? Are you considering PRK? These are questions best answered after receiving an in-depth consultation from an ophthalmologist, but there are a few factors to consider. If you are nearsighted, SMILE might be the best choice due to its minimally invasive technology. It’s also the most advanced procedure and may produce slightly better results. LASIK provides more flexibility since it treats nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, but you may need another procedure if your corneal tissue is too thin. If this is the case, PRK may be your best option. Much like LASIK, it’s capable of treating all visual conditions but has a much longer recovery time. But again, only a comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist can tell you which procedure would be most beneficial to you.
Dr. Fred Mattioli has over eighteen years of vision correction experience, helping more than 50,000 Houstonians get the clearer vision they need. Along with his dedicated staff, many of which have been working with him for decades, Dr. Mattioli is committed to finding the best procedure for you. Whether you require SMILE, LASIK, PRK or cataracts/implant procedures, have confidence that you’ll be taken care of by one of the best vision correction practices in the Greater Houston area. Ready to kick the glasses to the curb? Schedule a free consultation today!