What is SMILE laser?

Dougherty LaserVision is one of the latest eye care centers to offer ReLEx® SMILE.  ReLEx® SMILE is one of the most significant advances in laser eye surgery in the last 10 years. SMILE reduces or eliminates nearsightedness in certain patients 22 years of age or older.

Created by Carl Zeiss in Germany, SMILE provides a revolutionary minimally invasive treatment for the correction of myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. SMILE combines the safety of traditional vision correction techniques like PRK and LASIK with even greater comfort and potentially greater precision.

PRK Technique Graphic

Surface ablation surgery

  • Subepithelial ablation
  • Excimer laser treatment
  • Extended visual recovery time
  • Patient discomfort
LASIK Flap Technique

Flap surgery

  • Stromal ablation
  • Excimer laser treatment or combined with femtosecond laser
  • Quick visual recovery
  • Some risk of flap complications

Minimally invasive, flapless surgery

  • Intrastromal lenticule extraction
  • Femtosecond laser treatment
  • Gentle treatment
  • No flap complications (e.g. less incidence of dry eye)


PRK stands for ‘Photorefractive Keratectomy.’ It is also known as Surface Ablation Surgery. PRK is a type of laser eye surgery that corrects vision by applying a pulsing beam of ultraviolet light on the surface of your cornea (Subepithelial ablation). This traditional vision correction is highly successful but has a longer recovery time than the more advanced techniques such as LASIK and SMILE.  PRK can take from 1 – 3 months to observe improvements.  PRK is also known to cause mild discomfort and irritation for the first few days after the procedure.


LASIK stands for ‘Laser In-situ Keratomileusis’ and is one of the most well-known laser vision correction surgeries. LASIK works to correct your vision by using a laser to create a flap (stromal ablation) to reshape the eye’s cornea.  LASIK can correct vision in those who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism. LASIK has a very quick visual recovery time: Most patients have their vision corrected by the day following their surgery. LASIK is a highly effective vision correction surgery but as with all surgeries, there are risks. Rarely LASIK can result in flap complications.  It is extremely important to partner with an experienced eye surgeon for a LASIK procedure in order to reduce your risk of complications.


SMILE stands for “small incision lenticule extraction” and is one of the most advanced vision correction surgeries to date. SMILE is a one step, one laser, minimally invasive procedure that uses photo separation of tissue to combine the advantages of both PRK and LASIK. Computer guided, highly focused laser light is used to create a lenticule (precise lens-shaped disc within the cornea), which is then removed through a tiny keyhole incision. Because there is no flap, there are no flap-related complications associated with SMILE. It thus enables more biomechanical preservation and stability along with less incidence of dry eye. SMILE is redefining refractive surgery as we know it.

SMILE Laser – one step to better vision


Not everyone is a good candidate for ReLEx® SMILE Laser Surgery. For a small sample of people that experience corneal issues or dry eyes, LASIK could still be the better option. As always, the only way to know for sure is to set up an appointment with a qualified laser eye surgeon.