Which Laser Eye Surgery is Right for Me: ZEISS SMILE vs LASIK?


No doubt, you’ve heard of LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis). It’s become a household name in vision correction, with over 20 million people enjoying their new vision. The reason it’s so popular is because of its effectiveness. How does it work? Your surgeon uses a laser to create a thin flap in the cornea, that is then lifted, and a second laser will remove a precise amount of tissue to reshape your cornea (the clear covering in the front of your eye). Once the flap is laid back down, the cornea can then focus light properly on the retina.

The first laser used to create the flap is called a femtosecond laser, and the second laser that reshapes the cornea is called an excimer laser. Both lasers are applied from a computer driven laser platform with state-of-the-art technology that delivers safe and effective treatment. It can correct a large range of myopic, hyperopic, and astigmatic prescriptions, even very high prescriptions depending on corneal thickness. LASIK gives millions the chance to experience life without glasses or contacts and the freedom enjoyed with good vision.


Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (ZEISS SMILE) brings advanced laser eye surgery to the patient through a computer-guided laser that takes a less invasive approach than LASIK. While LASIK reshapes the cornea by creating a flap and then removing a precise amount of tissue, no flap is made in ZEISS SMILE. The ZEISS SMILE laser gently creates a disk-shaped piece of tissue within the cornea, and then the surgeon gently removes this small piece of corneal tissue called a lenticule.

Once the tissue is removed, the cornea is reshaped causing light to focus on the retina. The laser makes the lenticule in about 25 seconds, so the whole procedure is finished in 5-10 minutes! ZEISS SMILE is approved for myopia and astigmatism. The healing is about three days, but the vision sharpens over the course of 2-3 weeks. This less-invasive technology is just as effective as LASIK, with added benefits such as no flap and less dry eye.

Primary Differences

The number one difference between the two procedures is that ZEISS SMILE is a one-step, one laser procedure vs. LASIK being a two-step, two laser procedure.

Both LASIK and ZEISS SMILE use lasers but the number and types of lasers and the operations are unique. For example, LASIK creates a 20mm round flap on your cornea to reshape it. ZEISS SMILE only requires a 3mm incision. As a result, there is often a quicker recovery from dry eye with ZEISS SMILE due to the preservation of more corneal nerves.

Although flap complications with LASIK are extremely rare, this risk is completely eliminated with the ZEISS SMILE procedure since there is no flap made.

During the procedure, the eyes will be numb so you won’t feel any pain. In LASIK during the creation of a flap, there is a mild discomfort from the pressure of the laser, but no pain. ZEISS SMILE is a bit more gentle, with no pressure.

LASIK and ZEISS SMILE surgery usually takes less than 10 minutes. Recovery time varies by patient, but the general healing period is about a week. Activities can more quickly be resumed with the ZEISS SMILE procedure as there is no flap made. For both ZEISS SMILE and LASIK, you can typically see well enough to drive and to return to work the next day!

Make the Laser Eye Surgery Choice That’s Right For You

There are many personal reasons to opt for eye surgery, whether it’s LASIK or ZEISS SMILE, but there may be physical reasons with your eyes themselves for one procedure over another. For example, not everyone is a candidate for LASIK. Thin corneas, history of dry eye syndrome, and a higher prescription are certain factors that may influence which procedure is better for you. LASIK may not be for you if you perform martial arts or other combat sports. In those cases, a flapless procedure such as ZEISS SMILE may be a better option.

With both procedures, you are in excellent hands with our board-certified ophthalmologist Jay Bansal, MD who has performed thousands of procedures over the past 25 yearss. LaserVue Eye Center uses the most advanced, state-of-the-art equipment for both procedures.

Your eye health and safety are our top priority at LaserVue Eye Center. We will examine your eyes and help you decide the best option for you; it may be one LASIK, ZEISS SMILE, or neither. We also have other options for people who are not good candidates for LASIK or ZEISS SMILE, such as PRK and ICL. When we examine you before selecting an option, we take corneal measurements (topography and pachymetry) to ensure that laser vision correction is a possibility or not.

Your pre and post-operative care are our top priority, managed by our board-certified optometrists.

Cost often comes up when considering a procedure. Of course, ultimately, you’ll save thousands without having to purchase glasses or contacts anymore, but surgery does involve costs. So, in addition to our 24-month financing options, we suggest checking your employer benefits. Often, companies offer a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) that could save you hundreds on the procedure costs.

Talk to our eye doctors about any concerns and which option is best for your eyes and your lifestyle. We will answer all your questions, explain what to expect before, during, and after your procedure.

Lastly, we will be honest with you. If you are not a candidate for eye surgery, we’ll let you know. Since not all patients are candidates for either LASIK or ZEISS SMILE.

Schedule Your ZEISS SMILE or LASIK Laser Eye Surgery with LaserVue Today

Call us at (800) 527-3745 or fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation. We’ll review your eye health, provide a thorough examination and explain the appropriate next steps.