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LASIK vs. SMILE: Comparing Laser Vision Correction Options and Prices in 2023

In recent years, many individuals with nearsightedness (myopia) have opted for laser vision correction surgery to permanently free themselves from the constraints of glasses and contact lenses. Laser vision correction comprises two main options: LASIK and SMILE. Numerous vision correction centres now offer both procedures, but what sets them apart? What are the potential side effects and postoperative precautions to consider? And which centre offers the best value for money?

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【*】 Within 1 year of the initial surgery, enhanced surgery is available at an additional cost of HK$3,000 per eye for SMILE and is free of charge for LASIK.

【^】The above prices represent the most favorable rates offered by the listed hospitals and eye centres.

Comparison and Distinction of Two Laser Vision Correction Methods


LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis) utilizes laser technology to precisely create a flap on the cornea and reshape it, allowing light to be properly refracted onto the retina.

Pros: With over 20 years since its introduction, LASIK has a substantial clinical case history. It is suitable for most nearsighted individuals, as it has fewer limitations on refractive power.

Cons: The procedure involves creating a flap of approximately 20mm in size, which carries a higher risk of infection. There is also a risk of corneal displacement. The recovery period for the cornea may take up to one month.


SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a newer laser vision correction technique that does not require the creation of a corneal flap or the use of an excimer laser for reshaping. Instead, a small incision is made to remove a lenticule of corneal tissue, thereby altering its curvature.

Pros: The procedure can be completed in just 10 minutes. The incision size is no larger than 4mm, resulting in a lower risk of infection. The corneal recovery period is typically around one week.

Cons: Individuals with severe nearsightedness or astigmatism may not be suitable candidates for SMILE.

Suitable Candidates for Laser Vision Correction

In general, individuals who are at least 18 years old and have had stable vision for the past year are suitable candidates for laser vision correction surgery. However, there are certain conditions that make individuals unsuitable candidates, including:

Unstable refractive error with an ongoing trend of progression

Thin corneas

High refractive power (such as nearsightedness exceeding 1000 degrees or astigmatism exceeding 300 degrees, which may make them ineligible for SMILE)

Insufficient tear production

History of corneal damage or infection

Diagnosed with keratoconus or forme fruste keratoconus

Presence of eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal detachment

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc.

Requirement for long-term steroid use

Women who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding

In preparation for the surgery, specialized doctors at hospitals and eye centres typically conduct thorough eye examinations for individuals with nearsightedness to determine the health of their corneas and whether they are suitable candidates for LASIK/SMILE surgery. At EC EYE, we also organize regular free seminars. Interested individuals can register at the following link to learn more detailed information.

Side Effects and Precautions of Laser Vision Correction

Following laser vision correction surgery, temporary phenomena such as dry eyes and sensitivity to light may occur. Most patients experience natural recovery within three months after using prescribed artificial tears recommended by their doctors. However, if symptoms persist, it is important to consult with an ophthalmologist for further advice. Additionally, postoperative care is a crucial step that requires high attention. Some important precautions include:

[On the Day of Correction]

After the surgery, it is recommended to go home and rest. There may be slight tearing and a sensation of foreign objects in the eyes, but these should gradually subside within approximately three hours.

Avoid rubbing or touching the eyes.

Follow the doctor's instructions regarding the prescribed eye drops and administer them at the specified intervals.

Refrain from smoking and consuming alcohol.

[One Week After Correction]

Avoid applying makeup, such as mascara, to the eyes.

Prevent contact between the eyes and shampoo, dirty water, or tap water.

For individuals who have undergone SMILE, light exercises like jogging or hiking are generally permissible. However, it is advisable to avoid vigorous activities like soccer or basketball.

[One Month After Correction]

Attend scheduled follow-up appointments for the ophthalmologist to assess the progress of eye recovery.

For individuals who have undergone SMILE, engaging in vigorous activities like soccer or basketball is generally permissible.

Individuals who have undergone LASIK are advised to wait approximately three months before participating in vigorous activities.

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Source: EC EYE

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