LASIK vs SMILE vs PRK / Laser vision correction options – A State of Sight # 134


LASIK, SMILE, and PRK are the three most popular types of laser vision correction. All of the procedures can have great results, but there are several differences in operations.

Watch this episode of A State of Sight with Isaac Porter, MD to learn more about LASIK, SMILE and PRK. Please post below if you have any questions about laser eye surgery.

Welcome to A State of Sight, I’m Isaac Porter and this is your update in ophthalmology and eye care from Raleigh. Today I would like to explain the three primary types of laser vision correction and the differences between them. We offer LASIK, SMILE, and PRK, giving us options to help choose the best procedure for each one of our patients to improve their vision.

LASIK is the most popular form of laser vision correction because it has the quickest recovery time and also has excellent results. With LASIK, a thin flap is created in the cornea with one laser (a femtosecond laser), then that flap is lifted and the cornea is treated with a second laser (an excimer laser) to change the shape of the cornea. This laser eye surgery has been around since the mid-1990s and it has given many people great vision. It is one of the reasons that laser vision correction has become so popular.

The next procedure, SMILE was just FDA approved last year (2016), but has been around since 2010 and has been performed more than one million times worldwide. We are very happy that it is now available in the United States. SMILE is less invasive than LASIK since it doesn’t create a flap in the front of the cornea. During this operation, a small opening is created, like a keyhole, that allows a thin contact-lens shaped layer to be removed from the cornea. This removal changes the shape of the eye and corrects vision.

Because it is less invasive, dry eyes are less common with SMILE compared to LASIK and the operation only requires the use of one laser instead of two. This laser outlines a thin lens inside the cornea that corresponds to the prescription needed for the patient’s visual correction. Once that thin lens is removed through the small opening, then the cornea changes shape and patients can see better as a result. Although it is not quite as quick of a recovery time as LASIK, it does have a very quick recovery time and patients are generally comfortable afterwards.

The third and original form of laser vision correction is PRK. With PRK, we remove the cells from the surface of the cornea and then use the same excimer laser as LASIK to change the shape of the cornea. With PRK, since the treatment is on the surface of the eye, it is kind of like having a scratch on the front of the eye, after surgery. It takes a little longer for the vision to come back and there can be pain afterwards. In the end, PRK can give the same great visual results once the eyes have enough time to heal.

If you have any questions about these three different types of laser vision correction, please post and we will be happy to answer them. Also, if you wonder which one would be the best for you give us a call at 919-876-4064 or click request an appointment to arrange a free refractive surgery consult with us. I hope to see you again next time on A State of Sight.