So, you’ve realized you don’t have to spend the rest of your life fumbling for your glasses or messing with uncomfortable contacts – you’re ready for life-changing clear vision with corrective eye surgery. Congrats! Once you decide to pursue laser eye surgery, however, researching the procedure options available can be overwhelming. Atlanta Vision Institute understands that every patient is different, has unique vision needs, and deserves their own personalized treatment plan. Below we explain the differences between three of the most popular procedures: PRK, LASIK, and SMILE so you can learn more about which procedure is best for you.
PRK, LASIK, and SMILE are three popular laser vision correction procedures that are used to correct common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Each procedure has unique characteristics and advantages, explained below.
PRK is an older laser vision correction procedure that is used to reshape the surface of the eye (the cornea) in order to correct vision problems. Unlike LASIK, which involves cutting a flap in the cornea, PRK involves removing a small amount of the surface tissue of the cornea to reshape it. This means that there is no flap, the healing process is typically longer than with LASIK, and it can be very uncomfortable for the first few days after the procedure. PRK is generally considered a safer option than LASIK for people with thin corneas.
PRK surgery may also be the best choice for individuals who lead very active lifestyles or work in high-risk fields such as law enforcement, aviation, or the military, any of which carries a greater risk of eye injury. Because a corneal flap is not made during the PRK procedure, there is less of a chance of injury after this treatment should something come into contact with the eye.
LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis)
LASIK has been the gold standard of laser vision correction for the past 20 years. It is a laser vision correction procedure that involves cutting a flap in the cornea in order to reshape the underlying tissue. The flap is then folded back, and a laser is used to reshape the cornea. LASIK is generally considered to have a faster recovery time than PRK, and it is also considered to be a less invasive procedure. However, LASIK may not be suitable for people with thin corneas, or for people who are at a higher risk of complications from a flap.
LASIK is an outpatient procedure that takes less than a half hour total and uses a local anesthetic, although additional sedation may be provided on request. You may notice a feeling of slight pressure on the eye, but most patients report no discomfort.
SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction)
SMILE surgery is a more recent laser vision correction procedure that uses a laser to create a small, circular piece of corneal tissue called a lenticule, which is then removed through a small incision. The procedure is similar to LASIK, but it is considered to be even less invasive because it doesn’t require the creation of a corneal flap. Also, it may have a lower incidence of dry eyes because it does not cut or severe as many corneal nerves such as LASIK. SMILE is considered to be a good option for active people who don’t want the post-operative restrictions as with LASIK, or have dry eyes.
Zeiss SMILE is also extremely fast. It only takes a few minutes to complete treatment, and the laser is in contact with the eye for approximately 24 seconds.
Zeiss SMILE is generally associated with short recovery times. You will be able to resume your normal routine quickly after surgery, with little to no discomfort. The microscopic incisions made during the surgery heal within a day or so. There is no risk of flap-related complications that are possible after LASIK.
How Safe Are These Laser Vision Correction Options?
Since being approved by the FDA in 1998, nearly 700,000 people undergo these laser correction procedures each year. Surgeons have been performing them for over 15 years and over 30 million procedures have been performed worldwide. To date, very few sight-threatening complications have occurred. All three procedures, PRK, LASIK, and SMILE, are very safe and effective vision correction options for those who qualify.
If you’re interested in Atlanta LASIK eye surgery, PRK, SMILE, or other eye surgery procedures, contact the Atlanta Vision Institute to schedule a free consultation and discuss your options for vision correction. Our team of professionals can answer your questions about the costs of LASIK eye surgery in Georgia as well. You can reach Dr. Ashraf by calling (770) 622-2488 or filling out our contact form here.
Take our vision quiz to find out if you qualify for LASIK or cataract surgery!