The Similarities and Differences Between ReLEx SMILE Eye Surgery and Basic LASIK

Posted by  On 24-10-2022

If you suffer from poor vision that requires you to wear prescription glasses and/or contacts during just about any activity where clear vision is necessary, you may have considered undergoing a vision correction procedure such as LASIK eye surgery or ReLEx SMILE eye surgery at some point.

It’s crucial for anyone with less-than-perfect eyesight to be educated about every option for vision correction available today, so they can make the most informed decision possible when the time comes to finally start seeing more clearly (without the aid of high-prescription eyewear).

This article will cover the key similarities and defining differences between these two popular vision correction surgeries, so you can gain a clearer understanding of which procedure might be most suitable for you.

The Similarities Between ReLEx SMILE and LASIK

Both ReLEx SMILE eye surgery and LASIK eye surgery are FDA-approved and routinely performed procedures capable of successfully correcting refractive errors in a person’s vision.

Other key similarities shared by both surgeries include:

  • An average procedural duration of 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Similar recovery time following treatment (roughly a day of healing with improved vision experienced in just a few days).
  • Both are painless, as each procedure involves the use of lasers that may only present a sensation of mild pressure.
  • Both have costs ranging between $4,500 and $6,000 on average.
  • Similar potential side effects, yet very minimal risk. Both share high success rates in clinical studies.
  • Both have resulted in high patient satisfaction in the long term.

The Differences Between ReLEx SMILE and LASIK

Now that you understand the fundamental similarities between SMILE and LASIK, it’s beneficial to learn about how they differ.

The key differences between ReLEx SMILE and LASIK include:

  • LASIK can be used to treat every type of refractive error, including nearsightedness, longsightedness, and astigmatism, while SMILE specifically addresses nearsightedness (myopia) and minor astigmatism. LASIK can also treat higher-order aberrations (HOAs) that affect night vision, while SMILE cannot address such issues.
  • LASIK eye surgery requires a flap incision to be created in the topmost area of the cornea. However, ReLEx SMILE is a completely flapless procedure, thus resulting in zero potential flap complications such as wrinkle development on the corneal flap and/or epithelial ingrowth.
  • LASIK is a more invasive procedure than SMILE, as a roughly 20 mm flap diameter must be created on the cornea compared to a much more conservative 4 mm incision. Thus, SMILE involves a corneal side-cut that is 80% smaller than that of LASIK, generally leading to a more competent preservation of the anterior corneal structure.

    Due to the much smaller incision created during a ReLEx SMILE procedure, there is a lower degree of corneal nerve disturbance compared to LASIK. This generally results in a more successfully maintained tear production system, helping to greatly reduce the severity of post-surgery dry eyes as a side effect.

  • LASIK is not an ideal choice for people with thin corneas. However, SMILE can successfully treat nearsighted patients with thin corneas.
  • LASIK has been performed successfully for about 30 years, while ReLEx SMILE is essentially a newer version of this procedure with an over 10-year track record of success. Furthermore, since it is a newer procedure and requires a greater level of intensive training, fewer surgeons actually specialize in SMILE.

    However, you can be assured that our highly trained and experienced doctors at Clearview Vision Institute proudly offer SMILE as a vision correction surgery option (in fact, we were the very first in Canada to do so).

  • LASIK involves the use of an “excimer laser” that creates a loud clicking noise in addition to emitting a particular odour during treatment. The SMILE procedure produces no sounds or odours.
  • LASIK eye surgery will require the use of two separate lasers, while SMILE involves the use of just one. With LASIK, a femtosecond laser is initially used to create the flap in the cornea, followed by an additional computer-programmed laser (referred to as the excimer laser, as mentioned above), and is used to assist the eye surgeon in eliminating a precise amount of tissue from the cornea. 

    The single laser used in SMILE procedures is referred to as the “Zeiss Femtosecond” laser by Carl Zeiss Meditec, and is used to create a conservative incision in the cornea to allow for tissue extraction.

  • LASIK stands for “Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis”, while ReLEx SMILE stands for “Small Incision Lenticule Extraction”.

Which vision correction surgery is right for me?

With beaming track records for success and many satisfied patients, it’s no question that both LASIK and SMILE procedures are excellent options for vision correction today. These top-rated surgeries both have the ability to effectively and permanently correct refractive errors, leading to a greater quality of life for the patients who undergo them.

At the end of the day, choosing a vision enhancement surgery that is best for you will be heavily determined by the type of refractive error you are dealing with, as ReLEx SMILE will only work for people with thin corneas who have myopia or nearsightedness, and in some cases, associated astigmatism.

We encourage you to speak with one of our experienced doctors at Clearview Vision Institute to help gain a better understanding of which surgical eye procedure would be most appropriate for your unique cornea and visual needs.

Contact Clearview Vision Institute Today

Are you considering laser eye surgery in Toronto?

Whether you’re interested in ReLEx SMILE eye surgery or LASIK eye surgery, our team of experts would be pleased to walk you through the process and help you to make an informed decision.

To book an appointment, call Clearview Vision Institute at 647-493-6371 or contact us here.

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