Eye doctor and patient

Treatment Comparison

Discover how laser eye surgeries differ and compare

The following chart provides an overview of all key facts and figures when it comes to laser eye surgery. While all three Laser Vision Correction options have high success rates, they differ slightly in the way refractive errors are treated, the treatment method used, and the clinical specifics of each method. A doctor or clinic representative can help you understand which option is best for your individual eye condition.

This table shows a range of treatment options used in refractive laser eye surgery and does not represent an overview of products of specific manufacturers.

  SMILE LASIK PRK/LASEK
Name of Medical Procedure
                                 
Small Incision Lenticule Extraction Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis Photorefractive Keratectomy/ Laser Sub-Epithelial Keratomileusis
                                 
Method Minimally invasive laser eye surgery, extraction of lenticule
                               
Flap surgery, folding away the top corneal layer and reshaping tissue underneath
                               
Surface ablation of corneal tissue
                               
Benefits Keyhole solution, preserves structure of the front corneal tissue
                               
High rate of experience, widely available
                               
Option for thinner corneas or other cornea conditions
Potential complications Some special characteristics of patient’s physiology require changing to LASIK
Possible flap related complications Longer visual recovery, less patient comfort during recovery
Eligibility      
Nearsightedness
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Farsightedness Currently in clinical trials
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Astigmatism
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Surgery      
Access to the cornea
  • Femtosecond laser creates a thin lenticule inside the cornea and a small incision up to 4 mm
  • Flap made by a femtosecond laser or a handheld device (microkeratome) with a circumferential incision of approximately 20mm
  • Removal of the epithelium (clear skin cover) with an alcohol solution (temporary removal with LASEK)
Shaping the cornea
  • Surgeon removes the lenticule manually through the incision to change the shape of the cornea
  • Laser removes tissue by multiple-pulse photoablation to change the shape of the cornea
  • Laser removes tissue by multiple-pulse photoablation to change the shape of the cornea
Completing the procedure
 
  • Flap placed back to its original position by the surgeon
  • PRK- Bandage contact lens inserted
  • LASEK- Epithelium placed back to its original position
Recovery      
Bandage Sleeping patch for the first few days after surgery Sleeping patch for the first few days after surgery Bandage contact lens is worn for about 4 days after surgery
Healing Eye may feel a bit irritated for the first couple of days after surgery. Usually the eye recovers quickly after surgery. Vision can improve immediately but may also take a few days.
Vision may be blurred for some hours and there may be a burning sensation for the first day after surgery. Vision may take a few days to stabilize.
Eye may feel a bit gritty and cause discomfort for one week after surgery. Visual recovery could take more than a month.
Activity restricitions Restrain for approx. 3 days from outdoor and strenuous activities
Refrain for approx. 1 month from outdoor and strenuous activities
Restrain for approx. 1 month from outdoor and strenuous activities
Technical Info      
Lasers used Only a femtosecond laser Femtosecond laser or microkeratome for flap creation; excimer laser for tissue ablation Only an excimer laser for tissue ablation

SMILE, LASIK, and PRK/LASEK are all clinically proven, safe and effective methods of laser eye surgery. The three types of Laser Vision Correction, while differing in method, have approximately the same high success rate. Which treatment option is best for you depends on a number of factors like the refractive error, profession, and habits such as lifestyle and sports. Each type of laser eye surgery has its own benefits and disadvantages, which you can read more about on the respective pages for SMILE, LASIK and PRK/LASEK.

 

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