What is ReLEx SMILE?
London Vision Clinic was the first clinic in the UK to offer ReLEx SMILE – a new generation procedure, which is changing the landscape of laser eye surgery.
Traditional LASIK laser surgery involves creating a flap on the cornea (the front of the eye) and using an extremely precise laser to reshape the surface underneath.
ReLEx SMILE (often known simply as SMILE, which stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is unique in being a ‘keyhole’ procedure, which does not involve the creation of a flap.
First, anaesthetic drops are used to numb the eye. Then, the Visumax – a state of the art laser – goes through the outer surface of the cornea and lays down a series of micro pulses in the centre. This works in a similar way to using a magnifying glass to focus the sun’s light coming through a window onto a surface – the window in this scenario is the corneal surface.
Once the pulses have outlined the tissue that needs to be removed in order to correct the patient’s prescription, the laser is used to create a tiny connecting ‘tunnel’, through which the surgeon removes this tissue. The procedure takes only a matter of minutes: the vision is 80% better instantly and reaches 100% within a few days according to trials conducted on over 1,000 patients between the UK, Germany, France and Denmark.
Who is ReLEx SMILE most suitable for?
SMILE is most suitable for short-sighted patients – particularly those who may have been told that they were not candidates for laser eye surgery because of thin corneas or contact lens intolerance.
At the average clinic, 15% of all patients who enquire about laser eye surgery are found to have corneas that are too thin or too dry. ReLEx SMILE can treat patients even with thinner corneas and very high prescriptions of up to -14 in some cases.
“Several great advances come from not having to create a flap or disturb the front of the cornea,” says Professor Reinstein. “The level of correction can be much higher without weakening the cornea, and people who are contact lens intolerant can now be candidates.”
Key advantages of the ReLEx procedure over traditional LASIK
This minimally-invasive procedure can be performed in considerably less time than traditional laser eye surgery. It is a significant advancement over the LASIK procedure, which obtains the same result but must use two lasers instead of one.
With ReLEx SMILE, we are now capable of treating even higher prescriptions than previously deemed possible. And after-effects of laser eye surgery (such as post-operative discomfort and dry eye) may be significantly reduced and in some cases eliminated.
Another major advantage of SMILE is that the mechanical strength of the cornea is kept intact throughout the procedure, as no flap is created.