SMILE VS LASIK: Which Is The Best Option?

Advances in refractive surgery have given patients multiple options to correct their vision. Among these, LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) and SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) are two of the most popular procedures. Both offer distinct benefits, but choosing the right one depends on various factors. This article will explore the key differences, advantages, and considerations for both LASIK and SMILE, helping you determine the best option for your needs.

Understanding LASIK

What is LASIK?

LASIK is a well-established refractive surgery procedure designed to correct common vision problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. The procedure involves creating a thin flap on the cornea using a microkeratome or femtosecond laser. Once the flap is lifted, an excimer laser reshapes the underlying corneal tissue to correct the refractive error. The flap is then repositioned, and it naturally adheres to the cornea without the need for stitches.

Benefits of LASIK

  • Quick Recovery: Most patients experience significant vision improvement within 24 hours.
  • High Success Rate: LASIK has a long track record of success, with most patients achieving 20/20 vision or better.
  • Minimal Discomfort: The procedure is relatively painless, with only mild discomfort during the healing process.
  • Versatility: LASIK can correct a wide range of refractive errors, making it suitable for many patients.

Risks and Considerations

  • Dry Eyes: Some patients experience dry eyes post-surgery, though this is usually temporary.
  • Flap Complications: Issues related to the corneal flap, such as dislocation or infection, though rare, can occur.
  • Not Suitable for Everyone: Patients with thin corneas, severe dry eyes, or certain corneal abnormalities may not be ideal candidates for LASIK.

Understanding SMILE

What is SMILE?

SMILE is a minimally invasive refractive surgery that is primarily used to correct myopia and myopic astigmatism. The procedure involves creating a small, lens-shaped piece of tissue (lenticule) within the cornea using a femtosecond laser. This lenticule is then removed through a tiny incision, allowing the cornea to reshape and correct the refractive error without the need for a corneal flap.

Benefits of SMILE

  • Minimally Invasive: SMILE does not require a corneal flap, reducing the risk of flap-related complications.
  • Faster Recovery: Patients often experience less postoperative dryness and quicker visual recovery.
  • Less Invasive: The smaller incision leads to less disruption of corneal nerves, potentially resulting in fewer cases of dry eyes.
  • Stable Results: The procedure provides stable, long-term correction for myopia and myopic astigmatism.

Risks and Considerations

  • Limited Range: Currently, SMILE is primarily used for correcting myopia and myopic astigmatism, making it less versatile than LASIK.
  • Technological Dependency: SMILE relies heavily on advanced laser technology, and access may be limited in certain regions.
  • Longer Visual Recovery for Some: While most patients see improvements quickly, some may experience a slightly longer recovery period compared to LASIK.

Comparing SMILE and LASIK

Procedure Differences

  • Technique: LASIK involves creating a corneal flap, while SMILE uses a small incision to remove a lenticule.
  • Invasiveness: SMILE is less invasive, with no flap creation, reducing the risk of flap-related complications.
  • Recovery: Both procedures offer quick recovery times, but SMILE may result in less postoperative dryness and faster healing for some patients.

Candidate Suitability

  • Corneal Thickness: LASIK requires sufficient corneal thickness for flap creation, whereas SMILE can be suitable for patients with thinner corneas.
  • Refractive Errors: LASIK can correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, while SMILE is currently limited to myopia and myopic astigmatism.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Patients with dry eyes or a predisposition to corneal abnormalities might find SMILE to be a better option.

Patient Experience

  • Comfort: Both procedures are designed to be as comfortable as possible, but SMILE’s minimally invasive nature might lead to less postoperative discomfort.
  • Visual Outcomes: Both LASIK and SMILE have high success rates in providing excellent visual outcomes, though individual experiences may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am a candidate for LASIK or SMILE?

The best way to determine your candidacy is through a comprehensive eye examination with a qualified refractive surgeon. They will assess your corneal thickness, overall eye health, and specific refractive error to recommend the most suitable procedure for you.

What can I expect during the recovery period?

Both LASIK and SMILE offer rapid recovery times, with most patients resuming normal activities within a day or two. It is common to experience some degree of dryness and visual fluctuations during the initial healing period, which typically resolves within a few weeks.

Are there any long-term side effects?

Long-term side effects are rare with both procedures. However, some patients may experience dry eyes or visual disturbances such as glare or halos, particularly in low-light conditions. These side effects usually diminish over time and can often be managed with appropriate postoperative care.

Can I undergo a second procedure if my vision changes later?

Yes, enhancement procedures are possible with both LASIK and SMILE if your vision changes over time. Your surgeon will evaluate your eyes to determine the best approach for any necessary adjustments.


Choosing between LASIK and SMILE depends on various individual factors, including your specific refractive error, corneal characteristics, and lifestyle needs. Both procedures offer significant benefits and have high success rates in providing excellent visual outcomes. Consulting SuraVision is essential to determine the best option for your unique situation.

By understanding the differences and advantages of each procedure, you can make an informed decision and take the next step toward achieving a clearer vision. Whether you choose LASIK or SMILE, you are opting for advanced, reliable solutions that can significantly improve your quality of life.

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