What is ReLEx SMILE and how does it work?

ReLEx SMILE is new and very exciting technology that’s been developed by a company called Zeiss. Zeiss is very well known for their technology in binoculars, telescopes, spectacles, but they’re also very big in medicine, and one of the things that they are excellent at is producing lasers in eye surgery.
And they’ve developed a laser that essentially performs keyhole SMILE surgery.
And what the laser does is it creates a tiny disc of tissue within the cornea, the
cornea being the part of the eye that we place a contact lens on. And the
accuracy of this laser is incredible. It can produce pulses of laser that are one
micron thick, that’s one-thousandth of a millimetre, so phenomenally accurate.
And depending on how short-sighted somebody is, or how much astigmatism
there is, the laser can be programmed to produce a thin disc of tissue in the
cornea which can then be removed through a tiny keyhole incision.

Who is suitable for ReLEX SMILE ?

This technology is relatively new in comparison to laser but is showing great
promise and producing great results. It’s particularly useful for patients with very
high prescriptions, with dry eye, because with a keyhole incision you induce less
dry eye after corneal laser refractive surgery. It’s useful for patients who are
unsuitable for LASIK because their corneas are too thin. And it’s also useful for patients who may be more prone to trauma of the eye, for example, people who play rugby, people in the military, policemen, people who box, who, otherwise, you’d be considering a surface procedure

The huge advantage of it over a surface procedure such as PRK or LASIK is that it’s painless. If you have PRK or LASIK, your eyes are really quite sore and uncomfortable for two or three or four days, and in some people painful.

Who is ReLEx SMILE the best solution for.

So my view of SMILE is it is really exciting technology for the patients we can
treat at the moment, the short-sighted people with astigmatism, it really can be
the best solution. It’s not the best solution for everybody, and at the moment we
can’t treat long-sighted patients with it, and it’s not as effective for presbyopic
laser surgery. But it’s really exciting new territory which is going to get better and
better, and the number of patients we’re going to be able to treat with it is going
to increase enormously.

More about Robert Morris

Rob Morris is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at The Grange Eye Consultants. His special expertise is in cataract and refractive surgery, including Refractive Lens Exchange, and adult squint. He has over 30 years of experience in treating people with eye problems. Rob Morris founded Grange Eye Consultants to manage the increasing demand for more complex refractive surgery. He leads clinical trials investigating novel eye treatments. He is currently Medical Director at Optegra Eye Hospitals.