- Patient Resources
Wearing glasses day-in and day-out can be cumbersome when nearsightedness leaves you with few other options. And while contact lenses offer an alternative, for some people, wearing contacts is uncomfortable. The good news is eye surgery can help restore 20/20 vision and make wearing glasses and contact lenses a thing of the past.
SMILE and LASIK are two types of eye surgery that can correct nearsightedness, though they differ in a few ways and SMILE is less invasive overall. Read on as a Marysville, WA optometrist talks about these two procedures and how SMILE is the less invasive option.
Refractive eye surgery procedures, like SMILE and LASIK, are designed to reshape the cornea, which is the dome-shaped transparent tissue that sits at the front of your eye on top of the iris (the colored part of the eye). With 20/20 vision, the cornea directs or “refracts” incoming images onto the retina.
With nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, images end up landing in front of or behind the retina, causing images to appear blurry. Refractive eye surgery reshapes the cornea, changing the refractive angle so images land directly on the retina as they should.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how LASIK and SMILE differ:
The LASIK procedure is a two-step process that uses two lasers to reshape the cornea:
The procedure is driven by a computer-controlled laser measurement that’s customized based on each eye’s measurements. As with any form of surgery, an optometrist does the preliminary exams and measurements before referring you to the actual eye surgeon or ophthalmologist. So it’s important to choose an optometrist that’s experienced in co-managing refractive surgery procedures.
Unlike LASIK, the SMILE procedure is a one-step process. Only the femtosecond laser is used to cut a small incision in the cornea. In effect, SMILE offers a simpler, less invasive option that has a lower risk of complications. Since the incision is smaller, you’re less likely to experience sensitivity in the cornea.
SMILE also carries a lower risk of flap complications, which refers to the site of the surgical incision. Also rates of post-op, dry eye are lower with SMILE than with LASIK.
While most anyone who wants 20/20 vision may qualify for SMILE or LASIK, someone with chronic health or vision problems might be better suited for one or the other. This is where having a good optometrist can make all the difference. Also, most optometrists who co-manage refractive eye surgeries tend to work exclusively with one ophthalmologist (surgeon), which helps make for a more streamlined process overall.