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 procedures have a high success rate, they differ slightly in the refractive errors treated, the treatment method used, and the clinical specifics of each procedure. A doctor or clinic representative can help you understand which procedure is best for your individual eye condition.

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

  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 surgery, extraction of lenticule
 
                             
Flap surgery, folding away the top corneal layer and reshape tissue underneath
 
                             
Surface ablation of corneal tissue
 
                             
Benefits Keyhole procedure, preserves structure of the front corneal tissue
 
                             
High rate of experience, widely available
 
                             
Option for thinner corneas or other cornea conditions
Potential complications Some complications 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
  • Small incision up to 4 mm made by a femtosecond laser
  • Flap made by a femtosecond laser or a handheld device (microkeratome) with a circumferential incision of approximately 20mm
  • Removal of the epithelium (covering clear skin) by an alcohol solution (Temporary removal with LASEK)
Shaping the cornea
  • Laser creates a thin lenticule inside 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
  • Laser creates incision
  • Surgeon removes the lenticule through the incision to change the shape of the cornea
  • 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 become stable. 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 single 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 procedure 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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