also known as Refractive Lenticule Extraction – Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, is a type of laser vision correction offered by eye specialist clinics in Singapore. It is a minimally invasive procedure in which the corneal structure is left largely intact. As it involves the use of only one laser, the entire procedure can be done within the clinic premises and it can be completed in less than 10 minutes, for both eyes. Compared to LASIK, there will be less post-operative discomfort as it does not create a flap and is done through a small incision. If you are looking for a vision correction procedure with an easier recovery period, ReLEx SMILE might just be the one.

Laser correction vision concept

How Is Relex SMILE Done?

ReLEx SMILE treats short-sightedness and astigmatism by removing a small piece of corneal tissue. This flapless procedure is performed through a keyhole incision measuring around 2.5 to 4mm, whereas a 22mm flap is created with LASIK. Thanks to the much smaller incision, ReLEx SMILE offers a faster and more comfortable recovery process that most patients prefer.

As no flap is created during the procedure, flap complications can be avoided – great for patients who lead active lifestyles that put them at risk of suffering trauma to the eyes, and those who are in occupations that increase their chances of contracting chronic dry eye. Using a small incision also means fewer corneal nerves get severed, reducing the occurrences of dry eye which can be highly uncomfortable and may affect the patient’s quality of life.

Speak to an eye surgeon to find out whether ReLEx SMILE is suitable for you.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Relex SMILE?


How Is Relex SMILE Done?

ReLEx SMILE is recommended for patients who are 18 years old and above – the age range where their eye prescriptions have more or less stabilised.


Stable Eye Prescription

Patients who wish to undergo ReLEx SMILE will need to have a stable eye prescription for at least one year.


Good Eye Health

Patients must not be suffering from eye problems such as lazy eye and muscle imbalance that can affect the effectiveness of ReLEx SMILE or the healing process.


Affected By Common Refractive Errors

Patients affected by common refractive errors such as short-sightedness and astigmatism are good candidates for ReLEx SMILE.


Generally Healthy

Patients who wish to undergo ReLEx SMILE should not be taking medications such as steroids and immuno-suppressants. They should also be generally healthy and not suffer from medical conditions like auto-immune diseases and uncontrolled diabetes that will slow down healing.


Not Pregnant Or Breastfeeding

Hormonal changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect the thickness and curvature of your corneas. Hence, it is advisable to wait till after pregnancy or when patients stop breastfeeding before undergoing ReLEx SMILE.

The Difference Between Relex SMILE And LASIK

ReLEx SMILE and LASIK share many similarities, such as they both correct common refractive errors, lead to consistent and predictable results for many patients, and have comparable criteria when it comes to determining whether a patient is a good candidate for the procedure.

However, the biggest difference between ReLEx SMILE and LASIK is probably how the procedure is done. During a LASIK surgery in Singapore, the doctor uses a programmed laser to reshape parts of the patient’s cornea by removing some of the corneal tissue before laying the flap back in place. Whereas in a ReLEx SMILE procedure, instead of creating a flap and vaporising cornea tissue, it removes a small piece of corneal tissue through a small keyhole incision using one laser.


Another notable difference is how ReLEx SMILE is a newer procedure as compared to LASIK surgery.
Although it has been around for 10 years, few surgeons in Singapore can do this as it requires much more skills.

Despite their differences, many patients are also surprised to find out that there is not a significant difference in the cost of LASIK surgery and ReLEx SMILE in Singapore. Hence, it is advisable to speak with an eye surgeon to find out which option is more suitable before making a final decision.


What Is The Recovery Process Like After Relex SMILE Surgery?

As ReLEx SMILE surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, the recovery process will typically be faster and less uncomfortable. Most patients will be given MC to rest at home and it is normal to experience blurry vision for the next few days. The eye surgeon will prescribe eyedrops that must be applied multiple times a day. Any blurriness will gradually improve after surgery and patients can return to their normal activities. However, it is important to keep in mind to continue wearing protective sunglasses while outdoors for at least a month. Patients can expect a full recovery where vision is clear and has stabilised after 1 to 2 months following ReLEx SMILE surgery.

Faqs About Relex SMILE

Results for ReLEx SMILE surgery and LASIK surgery are similar, making it even more challenging for patients to decide between the two. Both treatment methods have their benefits, such as LASIK being a well-known technology that has been around for a long time and ReLEx SMILE offering a quicker and easier recovery period. Depending on what the patient is looking for, either ReLEx SMILE or LASIK can offer optimum results. Thus, it is recommended that patients speak to an eye surgeon to find out which is the better option for them.

The results of ReLEx SMILE surgery are permanent but it is important for patients to note that our eyes change as we age. Sometimes, reading glasses may be needed when patients grow older.

There are a few types of corrective eye surgery available on the market, ranging from PRK to LASIK and ReLEx SMILE. However, it is safe to say that there is no one size fits all solution. For instance, some patients may have thin corneas and a high eye prescription that rules out LASIK as a possibility, making PRK the better option. Although ReLEx SMILE surgery has a shorter recovery period, it cannot correct farsightedness while LASIK can. Therefore, it is advisable that patients speak to an eye surgeon to find out which is the most appropriate treatment method according to their unique needs.

Paying attention to the dos and dont’s of the recovery period is important after undergoing ReLEx SMILE surgery to ensure a smooth healing process. Additionally, if it has been assessed that there was over or under-correction of the patient’s vision, enhancement surgery can be done typically after 3 months. Patients should also avoid wearing contact lenses 1 to 3 months after surgery.

Patients should wear protective sunglasses, diligently apply eyedrops prescribed to them and get sufficient eye rest. Avoid wearing contact lenses, rubbing the eyes, applying eye makeup and driving after ReLEx SMILE surgery.

The cost of reLEx SMILE in Singapore varies from clinic to clinic with the average cost ranging from $2,918 to $5,337.

Our eyes may still change and deteriorate as we age, resulting in the potential need for reading glasses eventually.