What is ReLEx SMILE?
It may be a complete coincidence that Relex Smile leaves patients with a broad and lasting grin on their faces after the procedure, but with the sense of humour of Professor Dan Reinstein, somehow I don’t think so.
SMILE, which stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, is the latest generation of Laser Eye Surgery treatments, pioneered by a team of expert surgeons (including Prof Reinstein) at Carl Zeiss Meditec.
Introduced in 2011, SMILE transformed Laser Eye Surgery into a flap-less, minimally-invasive keyhole procedure. And unlike treatments like PRK and LASIK, the technique is performed from start to finish using the same laser: the state-of-the-art VisuMax. (Interesting fact: no laser is yet to match the accuracy of the VisuMax, which can inscribe a word on a grain of sand).
Not only does this mean it’s quicker to perform and more comfortable for the patient — who literally feels nothing, in the words of Prof Reinstein — but it can also treat much higher myopia prescriptions than previously possible.
Four minutes to a lifetime of greater vision
Professor Dan Reinstein performs a ReLEx SMILE in real-time to demonstrate the full three-and-a-half-minute procedure.
One of the main advantages of SMILE is that it leaves the outer layer of the cornea intact; there’s no need to push it to one side or displace a small section.
Instead, the VisuMax laser places a precise number of tiny pulses in the centre of cornea, outlining the tissue to be removed, and creating a tiny connecting tunnel through which it can be drawn out. This whole process takes less than four minutes to perform.
“Not only is the patient experience greatly enhanced, as there is less surgical manipulation of the eye – making it less invasive than traditional laser eye surgery – but it also makes vision correction available to people who would have previously been told that they were unsuitable candidates. It’s a major development.” —Professor Dan Reinstein
With the cornea experiencing little disruption, the recovery period is even shorter than with LASIK. In fact, a patient’s vision reaches 80 percent recovery immediately after the treatment and 100 percent within just a few days (according to trials conducted on over 1,000 patients between the UK, Germany, France and Denmark).
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