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SMILE Eye Surgery – Is It Different From LASIK

Vision is what introduces the world to us. Although we rarely pay much attention to our eyes on an average day, there are times when our eyes become a reason for discomfort, stress and inconvenience.

A research report published in the Indian Journal of Opthalmology estimates the number of people needing cataract surgery may shoot past 7.5 million in 2020. It also observes that the number of cataract blind people would cross 8 million in 2020.

SMILE, or Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, surgery is the latest vision correction technology, which is a modified version of the laser technique of vision correction.

Ever since SMILE got introduced, it has seen the popularity rise exponentially. SMILE eye surgery is a one-step process that is far less invasive than LASIK. SMILE surgery is also the best cataract surgery procedure for myopia treatment.

This article is your one-stop guide to everything you need to know about SMILE eye surgery, which includes its benefits, differences, and similarities with LASIK, cost, and expert tips.

SMILE vs. LASIK: What Are the Similarities & Differences?

SMILE and LASIK share quite a few similarities as well as differences between them. Mentioned below are the top-8 similarities and differences between SMILE and LASIK.

The Similarities
Both SMILE and LASIK:

1. Eliminate tissues from the cornea to rectify refractive errors by adjusting the curvature.
2. Require the same number of follow-up visits. Patients need to visit the specialist after a day, a week, a month, 3 months, and after 6 months.
3. Have the same visual recovery rates. The range is often between 20/25 and 20/30 a day after, and between 20/20 and 20/15 after a week.
4. Take about seven days for the patient to heal entirely and see clearly.
5. Take about 15 minutes.
6. Have almost a similar cost. Some eye hospitals keep the SMILE eye surgery cost lower than the LASIK one, though.
7. Require the same kind of post-operative maintenance.
8. Work on patients, who have vision problems, is 21 years old, do not have diabetes, and are not pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Differences

1. While SMILE eye surgery is a one-laser one-step process, LASIK is a two-laser two-steps process.
2. LASIK creates a flap in the patient’s cornea by using a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. SMILE surgery is flapless and does not require a specialised instrument like a microkeratome to cut a flap and adjust the cornea.
3. SMILE eye surgery works best for people with myopia or nearsightedness and myopia-associated astigmatism, whereas LASIK suits patients with any kind of refractive errors.
4. SMILE is the best surgery for people with thin corneas, whereas LASIK might cause some collateral damage.
5. LASIK-operated patients recover slightly faster than SMILE-operated patients. Although there have been a few cases where LASIK-inflicted damages took longer to cure when compared to almost-nil eye damage caused by SMILE surgery.
6. Other than correcting refractive errors, LASIK can also treat Higher-Order Aberrations or HOAs, which is something a SMILE eye surgery falls behind.
7. LASIK is time-tested; SMILE is new. Hence, there are far more LASIK specialists around the world than SMILE specialists.
8. LASIK has been there for more than 20 years, whereas a SMILE is modern and open to further research.

SMILE Surgery – Benefits & Limitations

In so far as treating myopia is concerned, a SMILE eye surgery is devoid of competition. As SMILE does not require creating a flap, it is less invasive, fast, and aid quick visual recovery. However, there are some limitations, as well.

The Benefits
1. Near-zero risk of irritation or dry eyes
2. Quick turnaround time
3. A fast visual recovery rate
4. Requires the involvement of very less number of corneal nerves
5. As the incision necessary to operate is extremely small, the cornea gets higher biomechanical stability
6. If a patient plans to treat myopia through LASIK, s/he might have to undergo a follow-up enhancement procedure to get the perfect vision, one without any requirement of glasses. On the other hand, a SMILE eye surgery does not require additional enhancement procedure, as the cornea remains naturally hydrated during the operation.
7. SMILE surgery is precise. Out of the 5 layers in a cornea, the stroma is the layer that stores the tissue, which is the root of all vision problems. The SMILE specialist accesses the stroma through a small incision and removes the tissue, thus treating the root cause.
8. SMILE eye surgery is odourless. As LASIK uses two lasers, the second one, an excimer laser, produces odour. Since SMILE does not require an excimer laser, it is painless and odourless.

The Limitations
Although SMILE is an outcome of several years of cutting-edge research, it still has a few limitations.

1. It treats nearsightedness better than other vision problems
2.SMILE cannot treat Higher-Order Aberrations
3. Once your eyes have gone through the SMILE surgery procedure, you cannot get it again, as the cornea becomes somewhat thin. For follow-up procedures, patients rely on the PRK enhancement procedure.
4. As SMILE technology is new, not too many eye specialists have performed a lot of surgeries. It would be wise to conduct a little background check to make sure the surgeon is credible and possesses adequate experience.

Cost of SMILE Surgery

The SMILE eye surgery cost is dependent on various factors like technology, machines, doctors, and procedure.
The Pentacam test plays a major role in determining the cost of SMILE eye surgery.

Generally, the cost of SMILE surgery is a little higher than invasive LASIK surgeries. Consult a refractive surgeon to get a customised quote.

Is SMILE Right For You?

By now, it must be easy for you to understand and judge which is the right kind of vision correction surgery for you. SMILE is right for you if you want a painless, bladeless, less-invasive, and fast surgery. What makes the SMILE eye surgery even more special is its ability to provide a permanent solution to all vision problems.

Before you choose an eye hospital, check its credentials. A reputed eye hospital with internationally trained refractive surgeons, state-of-art equipment, and cutting-edge technology can do wonders and give your vision a new life.