RelEX SMILE Diopter Reduction

RelEx SMILE laser surgery is the most up-to-date technique for reducing diopters, which can be performed with the Carl Zeiss Meditec VisuMax femtolaser laser.

How do you know you need RelEX SMILE surgery?

You may occasionally experience blurred vision, vision in a brown or yellow shade and difficulty seeing well at night, along with sensitivity to bright light and the presence of halos around lights, especially at night. All of these symptoms are clear evidence that you need an eye examination.

The investigations required for this intervention are as follows:

  • visual acuity
  • kerato-refractometry
  • corneal examination with Pentacam
  • examination of the fundus
  • pachymetry
  • corneal topography
  • pupil diameter
  • ocular biometry
  • visual field

Even if these investigations are appropriate for the procedure, there are some cases when it is not recommended. These include age under 18, unstable diopters, eye disorders, history of herpes simplex or shingles in the eyes, etc.

What does the RelEX SMILE surgery involve?

The RelexSmile technique uses femtosecond laser technology to correct diopters. It does not involve removal of the epithelium, as is the case with PRK, nor does it involve flap cutting (FemtoLasik technique).

The procedure is minimally invasive, and is performed using the innovative VisuMax® Zeiss system, which is currently the only femtosecond precision laser to perform SMILE. It is also the laser with the lowest pressure increase in the eye, low enough that the patient feels nothing during the procedure. In a single step, a refractive lenticule and small incision is created, inside the intact cornea. The laser makes a series of pulses in the cornea, outlining the tissue to be removed and creating a small connecting tunnel through which it can be extracted. The rest of the cornea remains intact, and the femtosecond laser changes the shape of the cornea to achieve the desired refractive correction. The whole process takes less than four minutes.

The patient sees well immediately after the surgery and the recovery is completely painless. Vision recovers in a very short time, usually requiring only 72 hours rest, after which patients can return to their daily activities. The full healing process can take up to 3 months, but the patient feels no discomfort during this time.

What to expect after RelEX SMILE surgery?

RelEX SMILE turns laser ophthalmological surgery into a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in minutes. There is no pain during surgery, the recovery period is short and visual acuity stabilizes very quickly after surgery. Your vision will start to improve within a few hours and will be almost normal after the first 24 hours. However, vision may be slightly blurred in some patients and returns to normal within 2-4 weeks. The complete corneal healing time after ReLEx SMILE will take approximately 3 to 6 months. You can resume daily activities after approximately 24-72 hours after surgery. Add this to the short time of the surgery itself and you have an incredibly convenient and effective procedure that is suitable for athletes, business people and anyone with an active schedule.

The day after the procedure, you will have a check-up, and the doctor will check the progress of your vision after the surgery.

Patients reported up to 80% better vision within hours of surgery. Your vision will continue to improve over the coming weeks as you continue to follow the clinic’s recovery instructions. Over the next few days you should gradually resume normal activities as your cornea heals.

Unlike other laser procedures, there is a lower risk of developing chronic dry eye syndrome or corneal flap displacement following surgery. To make sure you are on the road to a quick and comfortable recovery, it is very important to have regular check-ups, as well as following treatment as instructed.

What complications can occur after RelEX SMILE surgery?

Side effects for ReLEx® SMILE vary from person to person, but what commonly happens in patients is blurred vision and dry eyes. All of these side effects are usually temporary and will gradually disappear a few months after ReLEx® SMILE. In extremely rare cases infections can occur, but they are 100% treatable so this would not be a problem either. Infections occur much more often in contact lens wearers, for example, rather than those who have RelEX SMILE.

Possible temporary side effects during the healing process:

  • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
  • Temporary overcorrection
  • Burning, itching, foreign object sensation due to dry eyes

What are the specialist's recommendations after RelEX SMILE surgery?

Although RelEX SMILE eye surgery requires a short recovery time, you should gradually resume activities in the days following surgery as the cornea heals. Avoid any activities involving water, such as swimming in pools or using a jacuzzi for the first few days after the procedure. Make sure no water gets into your eyes – even in the shower – until you are completely healed. Cut back on exercise for at least two to three days. You should be able to return to normal daily exercise only with your ophthalmologist approval.

The day after the procedure, you will have a check-up with your surgeon. Be sure to inform it of any side effects or vision progress during these appointments.

To ensure that your SMILE eye surgery recovery is quick and easy, follow these recommendations in the weeks following surgery:

  • Don’t wear makeup – Makeup applicators and brushes can be associated with micro-bacteria that can lead to severe eye infections. To avoid any disruption to a healthy recovery, avoid makeup for at least a week after surgery.
  • Continue to take all medications and eye drops as directed by your ophthalmologist – In the following weeks after surgery, you will need to continue taking all eye drops and prescribed medications. Even if side effects begin to decrease, you should always continue to follow all aftercare instructions. Do not use unapproved eye drops, painkillers or medications while recovering from RelEX SMILE surgery.
  • Wear protective glasses – Make sure you wear while you sleep the protective glasses received. Whenever you go outside, you will need to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays with polarized sunglasses. Avoid any possible eye injury by wearing protective glasses when participating in any contact sports or other such activities.
  • Avoid areas with smoke or dust in the air – In the weeks after surgery it is best to avoid areas with airborne particles such as sand, smoke or dust. Small irritants of this kind can cause eye damage or cause discomfort as you heal.
Text medically reviewed by Dr. Teodor Holhoș, Ophthalmic Surgeon
Written by Dr. Holhos Team
Surgeries

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