ReLEx Smile2021-10-05T13:47:34+00:00

ReLEx SMILE in London

Learn more about the least invasive & latest generation of laser vision correction procedures

How Does SMILE Work?


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

Book a FREE Screening to see if you can be free of glasses and contact lenses

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.
Book FREE laser screening


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.

Get the guide to ReLEx SMILE surgery

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Book a FREE online Laser screening and see if Laser surgery is right for you.

Discuss your options and eligibility for Laser eye surgery with one of our experts. We will give you clear advice about your suitability and the best vision correction options for you.
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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.

Choosing the right vision correction clinic is hard. We’ve made it easy with this Price Comparison guide

Save hours of research by getting this free price comparison report comparing every top laser eye surgery clinic in London.
Get your free report now

Check out our blogs!

Learn more about ReLEx SMILE Laser Eye Surgery
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Compare with other relevant eye conditions

Eye conditions are frequently misunderstood, so here’s a quick overview of the ones we most commonly treat


Astigmatism is caused by abnormalities in the cornea and the lens.

If you have astigmatism, the front of your eye is not a perfectly round shape like a football. Instead, it is more oval like a rugby ball. This gives the front of your eye an asymmetric curvature, so light scatters as it goes into your eye. This produces a jagged and slightly distorted image. Learn more about astigmatism here.

Treatments for astigmatism


A cataract is the clouding of your natural eye lens.

The natural lens is just behind the pupil of your eye, and it helps to make a clear image on your retina. Usually, this lens is crystal clear.

As a cataract develops, the lens becomes increasingly milky, causing a greenish cloudiness. It may also cause a glare in bright lights and change in the focus of the eyes, needing a frequent replacement of your glasses. Eventually, the sight does not improve with a change of glasses. Find more information on cataracts here.

Treatments for cataract


Glaucoma is a condition that causes the pressure inside the eye to be too high. If left untreated, this excessive pressure can damage the nerve that carries the vision to the brain; in severe cases, this can lead to blindness. Learn more about glaucoma here.

Treatments for glaucoma

  • Eye drops
  • Eye surgery

Hyperopia / Long-sightedness

Long-sighted – also known as hypermetropia or hyperopia – is when you cannot see things up close. It’s exactly the opposite problem to short-sightedness. Learn more about long-sightedness here.

Treatments for long-sightedness


Keratoconus is an eye condition that affects the shape of your eye. Rather than your eye growing in a sphere shape, it grows in a cone-shape causing your cornea to progressively thin and bulge.

Keratoconus can cause significant visual impairment, or it can go unnoticed, and your vision remains normal. Learn more about keratoconus here.

Treatments for keratoconus

  • Corneal cross-linking
  • Contacts
  • Eye glasses

Lazy eyes

The usual cause of having a lazy eye is when the eye is very out of focus as a child. This leads to the brain ignoring the image from that eye, and the brain doesn’t upload the software necessary to analyse the vision. Learn more about lazy eye here.


The treatment of amblyopia or lazy eye is to patch the good eye in order to force the lazy eye to work harder.

Treatment is only effective in children under the age of seven.

Myopia / Short-sightedness

If you are short-sighted (also known as myopic) you can see things that are up close but can struggle to see things further away. This is because light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina when it should focus on the retina. It focuses too soon. Learn more about short-sightedness here.

Treatments for short-sightedness


Usually, between the ages of about 45 and 55, the autofocus mechanism in our eye gradually fails. When this happens, we have to increasingly rely on glasses to read computer screens or printed matter. Learn more about presbyopia here.

Treatments for presbyopia

  • Reading glasses
  • Refractive lens exchange

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.


Bola Odufuwa

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.


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
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