Update: SMILE is now available in the US -Learn more about choosing SMILE over LASIK or PRK

SMILE isn’t available in the US yet, but its FDA studies seem to indicate that it will be at some point soon. So, when SMILE comes out should you go for it or go for LASIK? We explore the differences below.


Which laser eye surgery is the best?

Laser vision correction can be confusing.

Many people wonder which procedure will best suit their vision, but are unclear after doing some preliminary online research.

First and foremost, no resource on the internet (including an actual laser eye surgeon) can determine what procedure will be best for your eyes. That’s because only thorough examination can lead to such a determination.

Laser eye surgery is only recommended by a doctor for a patient based on a number of factors, including prescription, past surgeries and injuries, eye health, general health, and more. No one piece of the puzzle can possibly tell you what the best option will be for sure. Only a full in-person examination by a doctor will determine which, if any, laser eye surgery is best for you.

So, it’s perfectly okay to not be sure which procedure you need after looking around online. That being said, the differences between LASIK and SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction) are great enough to say in general which is better for certain types of patients.


The difference between LASIK & SMILE

One thing to note, though, is that all data about SMILE’s effects is based on shorter studies than have been performed on LASIK, simply due to how long each procedure has been around. LASIK’s been performed for a matter of decades; SMILE for a matter of years. Because of this, there may still be much to learn about SMILE’s long-term effects.

Based purely on the nature of each surgery, SMILE does seem to present some advantages over LASIK. Unlike LASIK, the SMILE procedure does not involve the creation of a corneal flap. This eliminates the possibility of complications involving a corneal flap, which can cause some undesirable side effects. No corneal flap also means a lower chance of inducing aberrations and a more stable cornea post-surgery.

Dry eye is a relatively common side effect of laser eye surgeries. One benefit of SMILE is that it may reduce the chance for dry eye to occur. Because SMILE only involves a small incision made in the cornea, there is potentially a smaller chance of dry eye post-surgery.

Some studies have shown that the precision differs between LASIK and SMILE more in patients with higher prescriptions. If you have higher myopia (nearsightedness), SMILE seems to provide better outcomes. Again, many factors will contribute to your final results.

Studies have also indicated that the predictability of SMILE is independent of the severity of your myopia. In contrast, LASIK’s predictability decreases the higher your prescription is. Because of this, SMILE could be a better choice for patients with a high myopia prescription.

Again, the long-term effectiveness of SMILE is yet to be established in a way comparable to LASIK. LASIK has proven over decades to be an exceedingly safe, effective, and long-lasting procedure. SMILE shows a lot of potential and, as is the case with any advancement that helps our patients, all of us here at LaserVue are excited to see how it progresses over time.


Laser eye surgery at LaserVue Eye Center in the Bay Area

If you’re interested in corrective laser eye surgery, contact us at LaserVue. We’ve been providing Northern California with state-of-the-art laser vision correction for years. We have decades of experience performing LASIK surgery and utilize the safest, most advanced technology available.

With offices in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and Mountain View we’re just a short drive away. Give us a call at (800) 527-3745 or fill out the form below to start on the path toward your best possible vision!