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SMILE (SMall Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a bladeless keyhole laser vision correction treatment

What is SMILE eye surgery? 

ReLEx® SMILE is the latest form of keyhole laser eye surgery which can correct vision for people with higher degrees of myopia and astigmatism. SMILE stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, and is a bladeless, minimally invasive procedure which involves the removal of a thin layer of corneal tissue using a femtosecond laser. It is an alternative to the more well-known LASIK and LASEK treatments.

Although relatively new in the UK, it was a natural evolution of femtosecond lasers in refractive surgery and has a 10 year track record. Currently the procedure is carried out with the Visumax femtosecond laser based in our Sheffield clinic. In early 2020, LaserVision intend to introduce Lenticule Extraction treatment across Surrey and Hampshire using the Ziemer Z8 Platform. Debuted at the ESCRS in Vienna in 2018, the Ziemer Z8 offers some distinct advantages by using the low-energy high-frequency pulse system and intro-operative OCT to improve safety and outcomes further.

How does SMILE eye surgery work?

With SMILE, no flap is created and the surface of the cornea epithelium is not treated. This means the healing time and the ability to see clearly are a lot quicker than with Advanced Surface Ablation, but slightly slower than with LASIK.

A single femtosecond laser is used to precisely separate a thin disc of tissue (the lenticule) within the structure of the cornea which is then removed manually. Like LASIK, the corneal surface layer remains largely untouched so ReLEx procedures share the same benefit of minimal post-operative discomfort and rapid visual recovery.

The whole procedure is completed in less than 15 minutes for both eyes, with the laser only being used for a small proportion of this time.

What to expect after SMILE laser eye surgery

After the SMILE treatment, vision is typically 80% better within a few hours, and reaches 100% improvement within a few weeks, according to trials. One thing you do need to be aware of is that, while recovery is quick, there is also the chance that your vision will temporarily be slightly blurry after the operation. This is completely normal.

More Information about ReLEx® SMILE

For more information regarding this treatment as well as any frequently asked questions, please see below.

SMILE has significant added benefits:

  • The corneal surface incision is  dramatically smaller – there is no ‘flap’ so the approximately 20mm cut of LASIK is reduced by more than three-quarters.  Because of this corneal structure is much less compromised so higher prescriptions and thinner corneas may be more suitable for laser vision correction.
  • The smaller surface involvement also means that corneal sensitivity is much less reduced by treatment: this is the reason that ‘dry-eye’ symptoms are less common after SMILE procedures.

For ReLEx SMILE the treatment day itself is very similar to the other laser treatments.  You will be in the clinic for about an hour, in the treatment room for about 20 minutes.  Your vision will be significantly better the moment that you get up off the couch: after a post-op check and instruction on post-op care, you will be able to go home for a rest.  All ReLEx patients are reviewed the next day and then like the other procedures, at 1 week and then at approximately 1,3,6 and 12 months.

Our Locations

LaserVision was initially founded in Guildford, Surrey. Now with clinics in over 6 locations, we are able to treat the eye conditions of patients nationwide. This treatment is available at:

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