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SMILE vs. LASIK: Weighing the Benefits

Written by Shannon Wong on March 1, 2020

SMILE vs. LASIK in Austin, TXSMILE, which is short-hand for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, is a great new way to correct nearsighted vision using advanced laser technology.

In the hands of the skilled surgeons of Austin Eye, this innovative technique promises improved comfort, safety and satisfaction for patients who’ve decided to free themselves from a lifetime of lenses.

How SMILE and LASIK Work

Although LASIK has already become incredibly convenient, SMILE takes that one step further. During LASIK, the laser is in contact with the cornea for 60 seconds or less. During a SMILE procedure at the VisuMax femtosecond laser reshapes the cornea in 25 seconds, using a tiny “keyhole” incision to access the middle layer of the cornea.

In a SMILE procedure, the ophthalmologist does not need to create a flap to access areas of the cornea that will be reshaped, which is the typical LASIK technique. Benefits of using one small incision include faster recovery and even less discomfort than the already pain-free LASIK vision correction procedure. Less operating time and fewer incisions mean the risks of complications are lower too. Because there is no need to create a flap, patients are less likely to develop dry eye, and there is no chance of a flap healing improperly or becoming detached.

SMILE was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016, but has been available for a decade in many European countries, where it has established a solid track record of success. Worldwide, the procedure has been performed a least 1 million times.

What SMILE Can Treat

SMILE corrects myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism, but the technique is also being clinically tested to determine whether patients with hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia or keratoconus can use SMILE to sharpen their eyesight. With continual refinement of the technology, there is no question that almost all vision correction patients will eventually be able to benefit from this remarkable procedure.

Though the SMILE procedure holds promise, the results thus far have not proven to surpass the results of modern all-laser LASIK.

If you would like to learn more about SMILE or LASIK, we invite you to schedule a personal consultation with one of the board-certified ophthalmologists at Austin Eye. Contact us by calling our North office at (512) 250-2020 or our Central office at (512) 454-2020.