The complete guide to ReLEx SMILE laser eye surgery

When laser eye surgery was first introduced it was a revolution and since then, techniques such as LASEK and LASIK have helped to improve the vision of millions of people worldwide. But now the future of great eyesight has really arrived.
ReLEx SMILE is a minimally invasive, bladeless type of keyhole laser eye surgery. Using state-of-the-art femtosecond technology, ReLEx SMILE involves creating a high-precision incision in the cornea. There is no flap - just a tiny incision of around 4mm is required.
Scroll down to read our infographic and find out more about SMILE laser eye surgery, its benefits and how it works.

Infographic explaining all about ReLEx SMILE laser eye surgery

What makes ReLEx SMILE different?

ReLEx stands for Refractive Lenticule Extraction, and SMILE is short for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction. SMILE eye surgery can be used to treat short-sightedness both with and without astigmatism. This technique has similar benefits to more well-known techniques such as LASIK, but without the need for a corneal flap, which minimises the risk of complications.

How does it work? 

First, your eyes are anaesthetised with eye drops, and an eyelid speculum is used to keep the eyes open during surgery. This may be a little uncomfortable at first but if you relax you’ll soon get used to it.
Then the Visumax laser is used to make the small incision in the cornea. With impressive 3D accuracy, a series of pulses create bubbles less than 1/100th of the width of a human hair. By creating a small connecting tunnel, the surgeon is then able to remove the corneal tissue needed to correct vision.
As no flap is created in the corneal tissue there is less healing required, which means greater comfort and faster recovery for the patient. Like other types of laser eye surgery, the procedure takes only a few minutes for each eye and in most cases, vision is at least 80% better after just a few hours. 100% vision improvement is usually achieved after a few weeks.

The benefits of ReLEx SMILE

  • Fast treatment
The ReLEx SMILE procedure takes less than 15 minutes for each eye, and the laser is only used for a small fraction of that time. This is great news for patients who have concerns and reservations about going under the laser.
  • Quick recovery
Laser eye surgery has always offered very fast recovery times but these just got even better with ReLEx SMILE. 80% of patients find that their vision is substantially better after just a few hours and 100% improved within a few weeks. Most patients get back to normal life within a day or two after treatment.
  • Better stability
The ReLEx SMILE technique involves making only a tiny incision into the corneal tissue and no flap is created. Not only does this mean recovery times are better but it’s also better for the stability of the cornea. As with any surgical procedure, the less invasive it is, the better.
  • Low risk of complications
Laser eye surgery is one of the safest surgical procedures you can have, and ReLEx SMILE is leading the way. Due to the minimally invasive nature of the treatment, the risk of this type of surgery is low, and there’s even less chance of experiencing side effects such as dry eyes.
  • Less discomfort
This treatment involves a very small incision being made and no flap, which means a lower risk of dry eyes and shorter recovery times. In short, that all adds up to less discomfort throughout the whole procedure.
  • Greater likelihood of eligibility
If you have previously been told that you’re not eligible for laser eye surgery then you’re not necessarily out of options. More patients are eligible for SMILE eye surgery than other types of laser eye surgery, so speak to one of our ophthalmic experts to see if it could work for you.


Your suitability for ReLEx SMILE

Patients who have dry eyes may be unsuitable for LASIK or LASEK surgery, but even if you have mild to moderate dry eyes, ReLEx SMILE could still be an option. You might also be suitable if you have a thinner than average cornea.
Simply book a free consultation with one of our opthalmic surgeons and they can assess whether you’re a suitable candidate for treatment. If you are approved for ReLEx SMILE surgery, then your surgeon will talk you through the procedure from start to finish, so nothing will be unexpected. Your surgeon will be with you every step of the way, including your aftercare and follow up appointments, so you can be sure that you’re in capable hands.
If you’d like to know more about ReLEx SMILE or any other treatments we offer at Optegra, book a consultation or drop in to one of our free open evenings at your nearest clinic. 

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