A common cause of visual impairment is uncorrected refractive errors, which is a vision problem that makes it hard for you to see clearly. It occurs when the shape of your eye prevents light from focusing correctly on your retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of your eyes.

There are several types of refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia) which are commonly corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. The problem with these solutions is that they require maintenance, can be uncomfortable, and may not work well as a long-term solution.

The answer to this, is LASIK or SMILE treatment, two popular laser vision correction techniques. But, what’s the difference between them?

Understanding LASIK & SMILE Treatment Differences

1. Refractive Error Correction

The main difference between LASIK and SMILE treatment is in the type of refractive errors that the two vision correction surgeries treat. LASIK can treat all refractive errors, which includes myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism, which is when both far-away and nearby objects look blurry or distorted.  SMILE, on the other hand, can treat myopia (nearsightedness) with or without astigmatism.  It cannot treat farsightedness or astigmatism alone.  

2. Technique Used in Correction

Both of these procedures are laser vision correction treatments that involve making incisions on the cornea of your eye to reshape it but they differ in that one creates a flap in your epithelium layer, while the other creates a small, lens-shaped piece of tissue called a lenticule.

With MLV Advanced LASIK or laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis,  specialized femtosecond laser, is used to create a small flap in your epithelium layer (the ultra-thin tissue that covers the front of the eye). From here, a small portion of your corneal tissue is removed with an excimer laser in order to reshape the cornea. The amount of removed tissue depends on what refractive error you have. Once the cornea is reshaped, light will correctly refract onto your retina at the back of your eye. 

3. SMILE or small incision lenticule extraction

It does not create a flap, instead it uses a pre-programmed map of your cornea to create a small, lens-shaped piece of tissue called a lenticule. Once the lenticule is created, a femtosecond laser is used to make a tiny incision in the cornea, from which the lenticule is removed. The removal of this small, lens-shaped piece of tissue is what reshapes the cornea and improves your vision.

4. Incision Size Used

Another notable difference between LASIK and SMILE is the size of the incision made. Because LASIK creates a corneal flap, the incision must be much larger at approximately 20 mm in length. With SMILE, the incision in the cornea is incredibly tiny, measuring approximately 4 mm. The smaller incision with SMILE reduces the risk of complications, as no flap is needed. 

5. Patient Comfort and Safety

While all laser vision correction procedures use anesthetic drops, allowing you to not feel any pain during the treatment, you are likely to feel some sensations such as light pressure from the laser being used. With LASIK and SMILE, both procedures are considered very comfortable, as Magruder Laser Vision uses the VisuMax femtosecond laser causing the lowest amount of pressure in the eye. This means that patients are unlikely to feel any pressure sensations during either procedure. 

In terms of patient safety, all forms of laser vision correction techniques are FDA-approved and considered safe when performed by experienced and trained laser vision correction surgeons. Treatment Availability 

While both LASIK and SMILE vision correction procedures are well-known around the globe, SMILE has only been in practice worldwide since 2012 and approved for widespread use in the United States as of 2016. LASIK, on the other hand, has been approved for widespread use since 1999 and has been refined over the last few decades as new technology became available. 

To find out which vision correction procedure is right for you, book your free consultation online now. You will meet with a surgeon to discuss your vision goals, lifestyle, and eye health. You can also give us a call at 407-843-5665 for more information about our other procedures.