LASIK and SMILE: What’s the Difference Between These Laser Eye Surgeries?

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laser beam shining into male dark brown eyes
by Dougherty Laser Vision

LASIK and SMILE are two different options available for laser corrective vision surgery. Both have remarkably high satisfaction rates and enable people to see better. In many cases, after the eyes have fully healed, people do not require glasses or contacts.

LASIK has been around longer than SMILE. SMILE wasn’t developed until around 2010 and did not get approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. until 2017. SMILE is a newer laser technology, so the procedure is slightly different from LASIK.

The LASIK Procedure

LASIK is well-suited for people who have farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. The best type of LASIK procedure involves using the latest technologies. At Dougherty Laser Vision, we offer Nidek CATz Topography-Guided LASIK, Alcon Wavelight 500 Wavefront-Optimized LASIK and the Ziemer Z8 femtosecond laser to create the flap.

Each of these LASIK surgeries is performed similarly. A small protective flap of corneal tissue is created in the cornea using a femtosecond laser. Next, a cool beam excimer laser is used to reshape the underlying cornea of the eye, much like sculpting a contact lens onto the eye. Lastly, the flap is carefully repositioned over the cornea.

The natural “vacuum” pressure of the eye holds the flap in place, and healing begins almost immediately. Follow-up visits occur within 24 hours of the surgery, with a second follow-up in about a week or so later.

During the procedure, local eye drop anesthesia is used. Patients are also given a mild relaxing medication prior to surgery. The entire LASIK procedure takes about 10 minutes for both eyes.

The SMILE Procedure

During the procedure, a small piece of corneal tissue is cut out of the back part of the cornea in order to flatten the eye to treat nearsightedness, nearsightedness with astigmatism, or astigmatism. SMILE also takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Just like LASIK, there is a quick recovery of vision. The visual outcomes are also similar to LASIK, which are excellent and stable. Unlike LASIK, vision improvements can continue for up to six months post-operatively.

With SMILE, both eyes are done on the same day, just like LASIK. The SMILE procedure involves using a femtosecond laser to very precisely remove a small piece of corneal tissue to reshape the cornea. The procedure is also performed while you are awake, using a local eye drop anesthesia and relaxing medication.

Which Is Better: LASIK or SMILE?

Team of surgeons in the operating room

While SMILE is safe and effective, we prefer to perform LASIK for most patients, because in our hands, the vision recovery is faster and visual outcomes are slightly more accurate with LASIK.  We typically reserve SMILE for patients who cannot safely have a corneal flap, such as patient who are boxers or MMA fighters who get direct blows to the eye.

For further information about LASIK and SMILE eye surgeries, or other corrective laser surgery options for better vision, please feel free to contact Dougherty Laser Vision at (805) 793-1647 to schedule a consultation appointment with our SMILE and LASIK eye surgeon today!

We have laser eye surgery centers in Westlake VillageSimi ValleyEncinoCamarillo, and Beverly Hills across Southern California. We offer access to the latest innovations and state-of-the-art technologies, with the widest range of laser and eye surgery vision correction services.