LASIK Alternatives

One important thing to remember when considering vision correction is that eyes are unique. Slade & Baker eye doctors will evaluate your eyes to determine the best way to achieve your visual goals. While LASIK is the most familiar name in Laser Vision Correction, SMILE and PRK are other methods of Laser Vision Correction that are occasionally better for some patients.

At Slade & Baker, our doctors consider selecting the best type of laser vision correction a key part of making a personalized plan for each patient. That’s why Dr. Slade and Dr. Walton offer multiple types of vision correction.


Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) is a newer procedure that may be better for some patients, including those with dry eyes. SMILE is a completely different approach from LASIK: no flap, no excimer laser, and a much smaller opening in the cornea. We have a long experience with SMILE and led the trials for FDA approval.

The procedure uses only a femtosecond laser to create a very precise, lens-shaped portion of tissue within the cornea and a small-incision opening. Next, the lens-shaped portion of tissue is removed through the micro-incision. The cornea then settles into the shape needed to accurately focus light onto the retina.


Who are the Ideal SMILE Candidates?

  • People who are 18 and older with a history of stable vision
  • People who are nearsighted
  • No evidence of corneal disease or certain autoimmune conditions

How safe is the SMILE procedure?

When patients have SMILE to depend less on glasses or contacts, the goal is to improve vision without glasses. Safety data examines the worst-case scenario: what are the chances that vision is worse with glasses than before?

Good news! Once patients were measured at 6 months post-op in the FDA trial for SMILE, there were no patients who lost 2 or more lines of best-corrected vision in the eye that had SMILE. And, the complication rate was less than 1%. Less than 1% sounds like a pretty good number to us! (

What refractive errors can be corrected by the SMILE procedure?

Currently, nearsightedness with minimal astigmatism can be corrected with SMILE. So basically…if you can’t see far away, call us to come to see if you are a candidate for SMILE!

We expect SMILE to be approved for nearsighted with more astigmatism in the future, so feel free to call and ask for any updates.

How long does the SMILE procedure take?

SMILE takes about 5-10 minutes per eye. Most patients say it’s painless since we use very effective numbing drops.

Patient Testimonial

“I don’t know why I didn’t get this done earlier. The surgery went great. I see better than ever. Overall a great experience.”

– Anonymous

Will I be awake during the procedure?

Yes, and we offer some relaxation medication to patients who would like it – most do. Being awake helps us achieve optimal centration in order to achieve your best visual outcome possible. There’s a blinking green light to help you focus while Dr. Slade or Dr. Walton performs the procedure.

Is the SMILE procedure permanent?

Yes. The thin, lens-shaped portion of corneal tissue – called a lenticule is permanently removed. It is minimally invasive, as the incision size is very small. As for any corneal refractive procedure for myopia, including SMILE, LASIK, or PRK, effects generally do not “wear off”. While living tissue can change subtly over time, the main reason people notice visual changes over long periods of time – and this is often age-dependent – is due to changes inside the eye.

Around age 40, the natural lens on the inside of the eye becomes stiffer, causing difficulty focusing on near items or tasks. This is called presbyopia.

Also, the natural lens can eventually become cloudy which is called a cataract. These natural changes of the eye still occur as the eye matures, even after SMILE or other corneal procedures.

What Is PRK

Photo-Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) may be the best choice for vision correction in some patients. The procedure is very similar to that of LASIK, but no flap is created. During PRK, the surface cells of the cornea, called the epithelium, are removed. The surgeon then uses the excimer laser to reshape the cornea to your customized prescription. Laser treatment usually lasts an average of 30 seconds depending on the amount of correction necessary. A soft contact lens is placed on the eye to act as a “bandage” to promote the comfort and healing of the surface cells. This contact lens will be removed by the doctor within 4-7 days after the surgery.


LASIK and PRK have very similar outcomes, with PRK taking slightly longer to heal. Slade & Baker Vision also ran the FDA clinical trial for PRK approval.

Ideal PRK Candidates

  • People who are 18 and older with a history of stable vision
  • People who are nearsighted, farsighted, and/or have astigmatism
  • No evidence of corneal disease or certain autoimmune conditions

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VISIAN ICL: Implantable Contact Lens

The Visian ICL is an implantable contact lens that is a particularly good solution for people with thin corneas, dry eyes, or a high prescription, although its use is not limited to those scenarios. Slade & Baker Vision has the longest experience with the Visian ICL, dating to the trials for FDA approval. During ICL surgery, the surgeon makes a tiny opening in the eye and inserts a micro-thin lens in front of the eye’s natural lens. Because the ICL is placed between the iris and the natural lens, it is removable, if necessary, through a second procedure.

Ideal Visian ICL Candidates

  • People who are 18 and older with a history of stable vision
  • People who have moderate to high nearsightedness and low astigmatism
  • Patients with dry eyes or thin corneas

If you have high astigmatism, there now is the Toric ICL option that has gained FDA approval and will be available as of November 2018.

If you have questions, please do not ever hesitate to call our office at 713-626-5544 and speak to our experts and schedule a consultation today!

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3900 Essex Lane – Suite 101
Houston, TX 77027

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3900 Essex Lane - Suite 101 - Houston, TX 77027  -  713-626-5544