ReLEx SMILE Laser Eye Surgery

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ReLEx SMILE in London

ReLEx SMILE is a minimally invasive type of laser eye surgery, offering a bladeless alternative to LASIK and LASEK treatment. ReLEx SMILE is one of the latest innovations in laser eye surgery. Think of it as keyhole laser eye surgery. A bladeless form of refractive eye surgery, ReLEx SMILE can correct high degrees of short-sightedness, and is also suitable for patients with and without astigmatism.

When you choose My-iClinic’s 5-star rated services, you can rest assured that you’ve made the best possible choice for your eyesight. Our specialist optometrists carefully work with you to evaluate your eyes to offer you the best possible course of treatment – allowing you to re-discover a life of normal vision.

How Does SMILE Work?


What is ReLEx SMILE?

As one of the fastest growing yet safest laser eye procedures, ReLEx SMILE is the one of the latest developments made in laser eye surgery that reshapes the lenticule in around 25 seconds depending on your prescription.

SMILE eye surgery has the combined advantages of other laser procedures, and in addition has improved recovery time after surgery. There is a much shorter duration of dryness after the procedure.

Particularly useful for treating higher prescriptions, ReLEx SMILE additionally offers no risk of traumatic complications. As such, it’s ideal for those involved in contact sports or those who often wear eye makeup.

Who is ReLEx SMILE for?

ReLEx SMILE is a quick, precise and bladeless procedure that drastically reduces the recovery time from dry eyes in comparison to LASIK and other traditional refractive treatments.

To ensure your suitability for the treatment, My-iClinic offers all patients an initial consultation, where we will conduct a number of tests in order to examine all the factors involved in correcting your eyesight to then offer the best possible type and course of treatment.

ReLEx SMILE explained

In these toggles we explain what you need to know about ReLEx SMILE

To ensure you are suitable for SMILE, a detailed analysis of many parameters is necessary.

On your visit to the clinic, we will measure your eyes on many machines.

An important measurement is the refractive state of your eye, i.e. your exact spectacle prescription. We will measure this with more than usual accuracy than is the case with glasses or contact lenses.

Another measurement is the mapping of both the front and the back surfaces of the cornea. The cornea must be sufficiently thick to allow the laser to operate safely.

The eyes are also examined to exclude any other possible eye diseases which could affect the outcome. Conditions such as keratoconus, where the shape of the cornea is abnormal, preclude laser surgery. The lens of the eye which sits just behind the pupil must also be healthy, and the retina too must be free of significant disease.

Most of these tests involve you sitting in front of a machine and staring at a target. They are not invasive and do not put your eyes at risk. They yield highly important information to assess whether the eye is suitable for treatment and more importantly, how much treatment is required.

Refractive surgery is carried out on your cornea using a laser to change its focus. It is usually performed to bring the focus into a natural zone where no glasses or contact lenses are required for you to see clearly.

It is now safer to have refractive laser surgery than to correct your vision with soft contact lenses.

People with normal vision, who do not require glasses or contacts, usually have an eye that is focused slightly hyperopic (long-sighted). Almost no one has a focus of zero.

However, anyone who has vision in this zone can see clearly and regard themselves as independent of glasses.

This is the normal state for the human eye. Very complex and poorly understood mechanisms are in play during the growth of the eye to bring about this state of sharp focus. Increasingly in modern life, it appears that these complex mechanisms are thrown out of balance, and more and more people find that they require a correction in the form of spectacles or contact lenses to see distance clearly.

In young people and up to the age of 45, the human eye is naturally focused for distant, and then autofocuses for intermediate and near. We refer to this state as emmetropia. Ametropia is the state where the eye is not in focus and requires an optical correction to see clearly.

Ametropia is on the increase and in certain parts of the world such as the Far East, there is what is regarded as an epidemic of myopia with up to 85% of young people needing a myopic correction to see clearly. Little is known as to why this is occurring, but emerging evidence seems to indicate the amount of time spent outdoors as a very young child can protect against the development of myopia. It is also possible that there are genetic factors involved – so if your parents were hyperopic or myopic, your chances of also being so are increased.

Fortunately, laser technology has undergone enormous progress, and now a huge percentage of ametropes can have safe laser surgery to bring their vision back into the normal range. The lasers do this by reshaping the contour of the corneal surface so that it changes the focusing power.

Scientifically derived nomograms are employed so that just the right amount of laser power is applied to bring that particular eye back to normal focus.

In the last few years, enormous strides have been made in increasing the safety and accuracy of these procedures.

On the day

On the day of the operation, you will arrive at the time given to you. It’s best not to wear eye makeup or to put any drops in the eye. The reception staff will check your details, and then you will be shown into the laser suite where the surgical team will be.

Once ready, we will escort you into the laser room. You will lie down on the laser trolley, and we will move you into position under the laser.

You will be asked to stare at a blue light to hold your gaze in the correct place. Slowly the laser machine will manoeuvre you into the precise position while you stare at the blue light. Then the laser machine will make contact with your eye with a gentle kiss.

When everything is ready, the laser starts, and approximately 27 seconds later, we have completed the procedure. We remove the lenticule carved by the laser and the same procedure is carried out on the other eye.

Once we are finished, we will bring the trolley back to the rest position, and you can sit up and begin to check out your new vision.

We divide the risks of laser refractive surgery into two categories:

  1. The risks of the surgery itself, damaging the eye
  2. The risk that we do not achieve the intended focus

It is also important to understand that risk is relative and that there are no risk-free options.

All decisions in life are choices between sets of risks. Remember, there is a very small but not insignificant risk of losing some vision with soft contact lens wear. It is also important to compare similar risks and not confuse the risk profile of the early lasers with the laser technology that is available today. 

Risks of the surgery itself 

Complications occurring during or immediately after the surgery include infection and damage to the corneal tissue that leads to scarring. Later complications include progressive weakening of the cornea leading to bulging and distortion of the contour, causing the vision to deteriorate. Severe complications in this category might lead to the need for a corneal transplant.

We can successfully treat most complications and restore your vision to a predicted level. The risk of catastrophic vision loss is about the same as wearing daily soft contact lenses for four years. 


The term regression refers to the possibility that the eye gradually becomes out of focus again and requires glasses. The focus of the eye never remains constant throughout life. Even patients who do not wear glasses will undergo fluctuations in their focus. The glasses or contacts you had five years ago would be out of date now and will be different from the glasses or contacts you might need in 5 years. However, your vision will probably remain within the spectacle free zone for a very long time and perhaps forever.

In the early days of corrective laser surgery, regression was not uncommon. The latest lasers seem to have a more stable outcome, although very long-term data is not available yet. Nevertheless, it appears that with the latest technology enhancements can be carried out many years later if required. 

The alternative treatment to SMILE laser eye surgery is LASIK, PRK & LASEK, or glasses or contact lenses.

Over 95% of patients achieve the intended focus with one laser procedure. Almost all of the remaining 5% achieve intended focus with a 2nd enhancing laser procedure.

A very small percentage of patients do not achieve the intended focus, but in almost all of those patients, the focus is better than it was initially before any treatment. 

Occasionally, you may find that even though you have achieved intended focus, you realise you would like to have something slightly different. If so, you can have a further procedure to alter your focus.

What do our Laser patients say?

We are proud to make a meaningful difference to our patients lives

Brilliant experience with My-iClinic for laser eye surgery. The team are clearly experts in the area, and I felt well looked after through the entire process. Honest, friendly and professional, I thoroughly recommend My-iClinic for anyone considering laser corrective surgery.

Priti Patel

Really pleased with the outcome of my lens replacement in one eye and laser surgery in other eye, carried out by Dr John Bolger and his colleagues. Wonderful not to have to rely on glasses all the time, just for small print. I was nervous before attending the clinic, but felt reassured and confident in their ability to improve my vision and reduce my need for glasses all the time. The testing, surgery and after care were first class, all carried out in a caring and professional manner and I would not hesitate to recommend this clinic.

Mrs Howell

I had laser eye surgery done at My-iClinic and couldn’t be more pleased with the result- I can see perfectly now! The team is truly amazing; so welcoming and made me feel very confident during the process. The clinic is so nice it feels like home and I would highly recommend My-iClinic

Louise Bett

I was recommended to My-iClinic by a consultant ophthalmic surgeon……he said it was the only place to go for laser vision correction………and I think he was absolutely right! John Bolger and his team are all, without exception, a pleasure to deal with and they are all professional, informative and assuring. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them……the aftercare is outstanding too……and even better….I can see!!


Have been dreaming about laser eye surgery since I was 15. Can’t believe that my eyes can actually see right now without contacts, woow. Will recommend your clinic to all of my friends. Mr. Bolger is the best.

Abbie Tillman

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The best way to find out if laser eye treatment is right for you is to have an in-person assessment. You’ll get a clear answer from our experts on your suitability and vision correction options.
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How does ReLEx Smile work?

On the day of your ReLEx SMILE surgery, it’s best not to wear eye makeup or to put any drops in the eye. 

When you arrive at your appointment, you will be shown into the laser suite where our friendly surgical staff will be waiting for you. You will then be taken into the laser room once everything has been prepared.

As you lie on the couch, the surgeon will move you into position under the laser. A drop of anaesthetic is placed on your cornea and we provide special support for your eyelids so there is no need to worry about blinking. 

The surgeon will be giving you instructions throughout the process and guide you through the procedure. It is very important that you listen carefully and follow the instructions exactly to make the process as smooth as possible. 

You will be asked to stare at a green flashing light to hold your gaze in the correct place. The laser machine will slowly manoeuvre you into the exact position while you stare at the green light. It will then make gentle contact with your eye.

The ReLEx SMILE laser process takes approximately 25 seconds, after which the surgeon will remove the lenticule carved by the laser. This is then repeated on the other eye.

After this, you can sit up and begin to check out your new vision.

cover image with several photos of a person undergoing the smile procedure

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Yes, the cornea is stronger, and there is no flap that could get displaced if there were a direct trauma to the eye. Smile is the preferred option for people who engage in contact sports.
The preoperative assessment usually takes about 2 hours, and your vision will be a little blurry until the drops wear off. This normally takes 6 to 8 hours. Many patients return to work the day after the surgery itself, but many prefer to treat themselves to a little time off.
Yes. It is usual for us to treat both eyes at the same session.
The vision is clear immediately and continues to improve in the days afterwards.
Laser vision correction does not prevent the eyes from being suitable for transplantation.

The rapid recovery times of ReLEx surgery

According to trials, most patients find that vision is 80% better after ReLEx SMILE within a few hours. Vision is excellent several hours after that and should then reach 100% within a few weeks. Many patients are able to return to work the day after the surgery itself, but many prefer to treat themselves to a little time off.

Over 95% of patients will achieve the intended focus with one ReLEx SMILE procedure. Following this, most of the remaining 5% will achieve the desired results with a second procedure.

Activities after the procedure

You will quickly be able to return to all your previous activities once you’ve received SMILE laser eye surgery. Contact sports are no exception to this, as no cut was made in the eye that could get displaced if direct trauma were to occur. This is why SMILE eye surgery is the perfect option for people who frequently engage in outdoor activities and sports.


Why do our patients choose ReLEx SMILE?

The answer is simple – they want to escape limitations and take charge of their life

You’re ahead of the curve

If you think about it, glasses are a very old technology. Contact lenses were a good alternative, but have a lot of serious drawbacks.

Enter SMILE – the most technically advanced option for people who want the latest and greatest vision correction option.

You’re smiling more, every day

It’s called SMILE for more than one reason. Rest assured that over 1 million people are smiling more today than they did when they had glasses or contact lenses.

When everything in life is just a little bit easier

SMILE just makes life easier than before. Not only is exercise and work in all types of weather immeasurably better, your pocketbook will thank you later.

When your eyes are smiling…

The whole world smiles with you. Your friends and family will detect those feel-good neurotransmitters a mile off!

It’s a confidence pill

One of the most cited reasons for having laser eye surgery is improved confidence. And, 95% of people are happy with their vision after laser eye surgery. Most patients say they wish they’d done it sooner.

Choose a life of normal vision

Have you or one of your loved ones finally decided to do something about being short-sighted or having astigmatism? To begin the ReLEx SMILE process, give us a call or book a consultation with our friendly team today. A better quality of life is just around the corner.


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About Our London Eye Clinic Experts

Meet the My-iClinic founders, Mr John Bolger and Ms Bola Odufuwa. Two consultant eye surgeons who made it their life goal to make your life better.

Image of Bola Odufuwa

Bola Odufuwa-Bolger

Consultant Ophthalmologist
Clinic Director

Bola Odufuwa is a consultant ophthalmologist at The Royal Free Hospital and My-iClinic. Her specialities include cataract, glaucoma, paediatric, and laser refractive surgery. Bola has had extensive training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, where she gained expertise in the management of various eye conditions.

Bola Odufuwa’s special interests include optimal refractive outcomes following cataract surgery, non-penetrating glaucoma surgery, and assessment eyesight in children with special needs: particularly dyslexia and autism.

Image of John Bolger

Mr John Bolger

Consultant Ophthalmologist
Clinic Director

John Bolger is a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Clinic Director at My-iClinic. His specialities include ophthalmology, laser refractive surgery (SMILE, Presbyond, LASIK, PRK, PTK), refractive lens exchange (RLE), cataract surgery, glaucoma treatment and macular degeneration.

Over the course of his career, John Bolger has carried out over 35,000 cataract operations, 20 of which were for eye surgeons. He has also taught over 1500 young ophthalmologists worldwide as they begin their surgical careers.

Affiliations and memberships

We are happy to be associated with the following esteemed organisations