LASIK, LASEK or SMILE: Which Type of Laser Surgery is Right for You?

Patient receiving eye surgery

Would you like to improve your vision without glasses or contacts but aren't sure which laser surgery option is the best choice? Learning a little about LASIK, LASEK and SMILE procedures can help you make your decision.

Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK)

LASIK is an excellent choice if you're nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism or presbyopia, an age-related condition that makes it hard to see close objects clearly. During LASIK surgery, your eye doctor uses a laser to create a flap in your cornea, the clear layer of tissue that covers your iris and pupil.

After lifting the flap, he or she uses another laser to make a few changes to your cornea. Reshaping the curvature of your cornea changes the way light rays are focused on your retina, which makes your vision clearer. After the cornea is reshaped, the flap returns to its normal position and heals naturally. No stitches are required for LASIK surgery.

The surgery only takes a few minutes and significantly improves your vision. More than 90 percent of people have 20/20 to 20/40 vision after LASIK, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Most people notice the beneficial effects of the treatment within 24 hours.

Laser-Assisted Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK)

LASEK may be a better choice if you have a thin cornea, dry eyes or a high level of nearsightedness. Unlike LASIK, only one laser is used to perform LASEK surgery. Before the laser is used, your eye doctor loosens a thin layer of corneal cells called the epithelial layer with an alcohol solution. He moves these cells to one side of your cornea and uses a laser to reshape the cornea.

The epithelial layer is then moved back to its original position and covered with a special contact lens that acts as a bandage. You'll wear the contact lens for about four or five days after the procedure.

It takes a little longer for your vision to improve if you have LASEK instead of LASIK. Although your vision will be much better within a week, it may take weeks or months to achieve the final results.

Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE)

During a SMILE procedure, there's no need to create a flap or dislodge the epithelial layer. After tiny incisions are made in the cornea with a laser, your eye doctor removes a thin, disc-shaped layer of corneal tissue called a lenticule. Removal of the lenticule changes the shape of your cornea and improves your visual acuity. The small incisions in your cornea will heal on their own without stitches.

Currently, SMILE is only being used to treat nearsightedness. Although you may not notice improvements quite as soon as with LASIK, your vision will be much clearer in just a few hours and will improve more and more every day. Final results may take a few weeks to appear.

Questions to Ask Before You Make a Decision

Asking a few of these questions can help you decide if laser surgery is right for you:

Will I Have 20/20 Vision?

Although 20/20 vision is the goal of laser surgery, it may not be possible to achieve perfect vision in some cases. If you won't be happy with 20/30 or 20/40 vision, you may want to reconsider laser surgery.

Will There Be Any Side Effects?

Your vision may be a little blurry initially no matter what type of surgery you choose, although it should gradually improve. Glare and halos around lights can occur for several weeks or months after laser surgery. Dry eye is another potential side effect depending on the type of laser surgery.

Will I Still Need Glasses After Surgery?

You may need glasses for reading and other activities if your vision isn't quite 20/20 after laser surgery. If you have presbyopia, you will need reading glasses unless your surgeon adjusts one eye for near vision and one for far. Although this is certainly an option, it can make some people feel a little dizzy.

Are you ready to improve your vision with laser surgery? Contact us to make an appointment to discuss your options.


All About Vision: SMILE Laser Eye Surgery, 12/17

All About Vision: LASEK Eye Surgery, 9/17

American Academy of Ophthalmology: LASIK - Laser Eye Surgery, 12/12/15

Exclusive Offer

Free Pair of Single Vision glasses with purchase of complete pair of glasses!

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule


Please Call


Please Call


Please Call


Please Call


Please Call


Please Call




Find us on the map


Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "TSO Bishop Arts is the best at what they do and make you feel right at home."
    Brian N.
  • "Doctors and staff are courteous and very professional. I wholeheartedly recommend TSO Bishop Arts!"
    Rebecca M.

Featured Articles

Helpful and Informative Resources

  • Fuchs' Corneal Dystrophy

    Fuchs' dystrophy (pronounced fooks DIS-truh-fee) is an eye disease characterized by degenerative changes to the cornea’s innermost layer of cells. The cause for Fuchs' dystrophy is not fully understood. If your mother or father has the disease, then there is roughly a 50 percent chance that you will ...

    Read More
  • Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy

    Fuchs corneal dystrophy affects the cornea, the clear window over the front of your eye. It causes swelling that leads to cloudiness, glare and increasing visual impairment. Women are slightly more likely than men to develop Fuchs. Onset usually happens after the age of 50; though early signs might start ...

    Read More
  • LASIK, LASEK or SMILE: Which Type of Laser Surgery is Right for You?

    Are you considering laser eye surgery but aren't sure if you should choose LASIK, LASEK or SMILE? ...

    Read More
  • Should You See a Vision Therapist?

    Do you experience frequent headaches, double vision or motion sickness? You may benefit from a visit to a vision therapist. ...

    Read More
  • How to Lessen the Risk of Glaucoma

    Did you know that your lifestyle choices can impact your risk of glaucoma? Read our latest newsletter to learn how to reduce your risk of getting glaucoma. ...

    Read More
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    One of the leading causes of vision loss in people who are age 50 or older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This common eye condition leads to damage of a small spot near the center of the retina called the macula. The macula provides us with the ability to clearly see objects that are straight ...

    Read More
  • Diabetic Eye Diseases

    Diabetes is a condition that involves high blood sugar (glucose) levels. This can affect many parts of the body, including the eyes. One of the most common diabetic eye diseases is diabetic retinopathy, which is also a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic Retinopathy Diabetic retinopathy ...

    Read More
  • Presbyopia

    Somewhere around the age of 40, most people’s eyes lose the ability to focus on close-up objects. This condition is called presbyopia. You may start holding reading material farther away, because it is blurry up close. Reading suddenly gives you eyestrain. You might wonder when manufacturers started ...

    Read More
  • Laser Cataract Surgery

    The only way to correct the clouded vision caused by advanced cataracts is surgical intervention. If you find yourself pursuing cataract surgery to remove one or both cataract-disease lenses, you may be wondering what surgical approaches are available for treatment. Although eye surgeons have successfully ...

    Read More
  • Cataract Surgery

    With cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist removes the cataract-diseased lens of your eye. The ophthalmologist then replaces your natural lens with an artificial one. The Procedure This outpatient procedure is generally safe and takes less than an hour. Your ophthalmologist will dilate your pupil ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign Up to Receive More Articles