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SMILE – How Does It Compare to LASIK?

SMILE – How Does It Compare to LASIK?

These two procedures use different methods to produce similar results.

When most people hear the term ‘laser eye surgery’, they immediately think of LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis). And for good reason – since the late ‘90s, around 10 million Americans have gotten LASIK, and over 700,000 people in the U.S. undergo the procedure each year. But LASIK is only one of several refractive surgeries, another one being a procedure called SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction). Here are three differences and two similarities between LASIK and SMILE.

Difference #1 – The Size of the Incision
The main difference between LASIK and SMILE lies in the length of the surgical incision. For LASIK, your ophthalmologist will make a 20mm incision on the front of your eye to create a flap that will allow them to reshape your cornea. The incision required for SMILE is much smaller, measuring at a mere 4mm. Since SMILE does not require a corneal flap, the risks of flap complications are nonexistent.

Similarity #1 – Both Surgeries Are Painless
Whether you’re receiving LASIK or SMILE, you don’t have to worry about a painful experience. Before either surgery, your ophthalmologist will apply numbing drops to each eye, reducing the degree of sensation you’re able to perceive. Most LASIK and SMILE patients report feeling mild pressure during the operation, but none of them describe any pain.

Difference #2 – LASIK Corrects More Refractive Errors
LASIK is a viable option for anyone seeking to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. SMILE, however, is only authorized to treat myopia and astigmatism at this time. Although early tests of hyperopic SMILE surgery look promising, it will be some time before this version of the procedure is available. Until then, patients with hyperopia will have to consider LASIK or an alternate surgical option.

Similarity #2 – Patients Experience At Least 20/40 Vision
The results of both LASIK and SMILE are almost identical. Statistically, 98% of laser eye surgery patients obtain a visual acuity of 20/40 or better, and 90% obtain a visual acuity of 20/20. This means that both procedures are equally effective at reducing your dependency on glasses and contact lenses – the primary goal of laser eye surgery according to the FDA.

Difference #3 – SMILE Lowers the Risk of Dry Eyes
A common complication of any laser eye surgery is dry eye syndrome. However, SMILE patients tend to experience milder symptoms of dry eyes, if any at all. This is because the larger incision required for LASIK results in more severed nerves than SMILE, which makes it more difficult for your eyes to produce tear film. If you have naturally dry eyes, then SMILE may be your preferred option.

Choosing the refractive surgery that’s right for you is a decision best made with professional guidance. Our experienced ophthalmologists at Sterling Vision are ready to give you the knowledge and insight you need so you can make an informed decision on the future of your eyesight. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.