LASIK vs SMILE Eye Surgery: What are the Differences?

February 15, 2023

Think about how many people you know who wear glasses or contact lenses, and you will realize how common vision problems are. Eye surgery such as LASIK or SMILE can dramatically improve your vision. While these two procedures have some things in common, they work differently, making them appropriate for different people. 

What are LASIK AND SMILE Eye Surgery?

LASIK and SMILE are types of laser eye surgery. They both work by changing the shape of your corneas. The corneas, clear structures at the front of the eye, focus incoming light so you see clearly. Reshaping the corneas with a laser corrects refractive errors that keep light from focusing properly. As a result, you may not need your glasses or contact lenses anymore. 

LASIK vs SMILE Eye Surgery: What are the Differences?

The primary differences between LASIK and SMILE are in the details of the procedure. How the vision correction is performed affects recovery time, potential side effects, and what the treatment can accomplish. 


LASIK popularized laser eye surgery and remains the best-known type. LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) uses a femtosecond laser to create a flap and make an opening about 20mm around. The surgeon then uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. 

LASIK works well for people who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism. 


SMILE is a newer laser eye surgery technique. SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) only uses one laser. It uses this laser to create a disc of corneal tissue called a lenticule. An incision, usually less than 5mm, is made in the cornea’s outer layer, and the disc is removed. 

SMILE works well for people with nearsightedness or astigmatism but notl for farsightedness. 

The Path to Clearer Vision Starts Here

What is Recovery Like From LASIK or SMILE?

Because SMILE creates a small incision instead of a flap, people typically experience a faster recovery from SMILE. However, both have a very quick recovery time. Most people can resume normal activities within three days of SMILE, while your eyes will need protection and care for about two weeks after LASIK. In both cases, most people can see better within days. 

Am I a Good Candidate for LASIK or SMILE Eye Surgery?

Several factors determine whether LASIK or SMILE is right for you, including:

  • Corneal thickness
  • Type of refractive error
  • Preexisting conditions like dry eye
  • Your lifestyle and activities

LASIK treats more types and severity of vision problems than SMILE. However, the larger flap created with LASIK can weaken the cornea, making SMILE a better choice for some people who have thin corneas or dry eye symptoms. 

Dr. Dudek and her team were absolutely amazing throughout the entire process. My LASIK procedure was fast, safe, professional, and I felt extremely confident with them from start to finish. I could not recommend them enough, LASIK is a no brainer.

Take the Next Step

If you’d like to learn more about vision correction with LASIK or SMILE, schedule a consultation with our Heart of Texas Eye Care team, serving Dripping Springs, Austin, Kyle, Bee Cave, Marble Falls, and other surrounding areas. Contact us at (512) 213-2220 today!

*Individual results may vary