SMILE is a high-performance and minimally-invasive laser vision correction procedure that provides the same great results as traditional LASIK, but with added benefits—this is not your parents’ LASIK! Our eye doctors offer SMILE LASIK for patients throughout Chicagoland.

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What is SMILE LASIK?Dr Mateen and Julie with Zeiss VisuMax

SMILE LASIK is a laser vision eye surgery designed to correct refractive errors, including myopia (nearsightedness), with or without astigmatism. SMILE, which stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction, has many similarities to traditional LASIK eye surgery—with some added benefits.

SMILE LASIK is not your parents’ LASIK. SMILE is the most advanced laser vision correction to deliver better vision with a lower risk of side effects. A key difference is that SMILE does not require the creation of a corneal flap.

More than 8 million ZEISS SMILE procedures have been performed worldwide—clearly illustrating the demand for innovative vision correction. Patients who have SMILE LASIK report an even higher post-op Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Comparing Patient-Reported Outcomes of Laser In Situ Keratomileusis and Small-Incision Lenticule Extraction: A Review Chiam NPY, Mehta JS Go to Source satisfaction rate than patients who have traditional LASIK.

SMILE LASIK Technology

Our SMILE LASIK surgeons use the ZEISS VisuMax® Femtosecond Laser, the first and only laser FDA approved for SMILE LASIK vision correction. With SMILE LASIK, a lenticule is created inside the intact cornea. The side cut through which the lenticule is removed is between less than 4 mm and up to 6 mm in length, reflecting an approximately 80% smaller incision in the cornea than with a traditional LASIK flap.

Comparison Close-up eye of laser eye surgery of old and new method LASIK and SMILE

SMILE LASIK vs Traditional LASIK

At Kovach Eye Institute, we are proud to have been the first practice in Illinois to perform SMILE LASIK and provide our patients with superior, advanced technology flapless vision correction. Because no corneal flap is created during the SMILE procedure, this vision correction surgery offers our patients a number of pronounced benefits when compared to traditional LASIK.

One distinct benefit of SMILE over traditional LASIK is that it helps ensure that our patients enjoy long-term vision correction. Sometimes, even years after their LASIK procedure, a bump to the eye can cause a patient’s corneal flap to wrinkle. This can lead to permanent vision damage: a risk that our SMILE patients never need to worry about.

SMILE is a fast, painless procedure that often provides patients with the same visual acuity as LASIK (or better), but is less invasive to the eye than LASIK. This means that SMILE patients enjoy a faster visual recovery after their procedure: many of our patients experience 20/20 vision the very day after SMILE. SMILE is truly not your parents’ LASIK!

Benefits of SMILE LASIK

Minimally Invasive
SMILE LASIK is a bladeless and flapless procedure. Your surgeon will only need to make a small, precise opening to correct your vision.

Quick and Proven
More than 8 million SMILE procedures have been performed worldwide and SMILE LASIK only takes a few minutes to complete from start to finish.

Rapid Visual Recovery
Vision recovers quickly after SMILE LASIK. Most SMILE patients return to normal activities the following day.

Eye Comfort
You may experience minimal to no discomfort during and after the procedure. SMILE LASIK offers a potentially lower incidence of transient dry eye syndrome.

Freedom from Lenses
SMILE LASIK is designed to reduce or eliminate your need for glasses and contact lenses so you can enjoy life with more freedom.

SMILE Laser Eye Surgery: What to Expect

Preparing for SMILE LASIK

The journey toward better vision starts with a consultation appointment at one of our Chicagoland offices. Our team will review your medical history and discuss your goals in order to determine if you are a candidate for SMILE. If you and your eye doctor decide that SMILE is right for you after your eye exam, then we will give you detailed pre-op instructions.

YDoctor Kovach performing SMILE procedureour SMILE Procedure

SMILE LASIK is an outpatient procedure. Your eyes will be numbed with anesthetic eye drops and our team will make sure you are comfortable. The actual surgery takes just a few minutes.

Your surgeon will use a laser to reshape the cornea by creating a lenticule, which is a thin, contact lens-shaped layer just beneath the surface of the eye. They will then create a small opening in the cornea through which the layer is removed.

Recovery After SMILE Eye Surgery

SMILE patients are usually able to resume day-to-day activities the day after surgery, and since there is no flap, patients can wear makeup, exercise and go swimming typically within one week of the procedure. It can take a few days to achieve optimal vision. In general, patients report a comfortable recovery with less scratchiness, burning or itching than with LASIK. We will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your healing and results.

Jenna’s SMILE Journey

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Reviews from Our Patients

Dr Gradianu and staff were fabulous! I had the SMILE procedure about two weeks ago and I was seeing better than 20/20 the next day at my follow up visit. The procedure was pain-free and seamless. They made sure I was comfortable throughout the whole test. I’m glad I finally caved and got it done. It will save me so much money not buying contacts.
Visited Kovach yesterday. Had the opportunity to meet Dr. Kovach who answered all of my questions about the SMILE procedure and really took the time to educate me on the benefits of it over long-term use of contacts. Frankie was very nice and made the scheduling aspect of the visit very easy and enjoyable. I now have a timeline of appointments for my SMILE procedure and I'm looking forward to returning to KOVACH.
I had my SMILE surgery procedure two weeks ago and I am very satisfied of the results. I had a strong nearsightedness all my life and I finally decided to go through the surgery to fix it. The team at Kovach Eye Institute was very professional and answered all my questions.
I had the SMILE procedure done in December and I can’t believe it took me so long to get this done. My recovery was quick and painless. All the doctors and staff were courteous and kind. I was mostly seen at the Naperville locations but did have to go to the Elmhurst location for my procedure and one day follow up. Both locations are great.

Frequently Asked Questions About SMILE

You may be a candidate for SMILE even if you have been told that you are not a LASIK candidate. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Food and Drug Administration Go to Source Ideal candidates for SMILE LASIK are:

  • 22 or older
  • Have myopia (nearsightedness) up to -8.00 diopters
  • Have a stable prescription and healthy eyes

SMILE LASIK is not right for people who are pregnant or nursing or those with eye diseases such as glaucoma or keratoconus.

Traditional LASIK and SMILE LASIK both use lasers to reshape the cornea and improve vision, but SMILE uses a smaller incision with no need for a corneal flap. When compared to traditional LASIK, studies show that SMILE LASIK has a Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Hyperopic small-incision lenticule extraction Moshirfar M, Bruner CD, Skanchy DF, Shah T Go to Source lower chance of complications such as corneal nerve damage. Many experts believe that SMILE LASIK will soon become the Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source First efficacy and safety study of femtosecond lenticule extraction for the correction of myopia: six-month results Sekundo W, Kunert K, Russmann C, Gille A, Bissmann W, Stobrawa G, Sticker M, Bischoff M, Blum M Go to Source gold standard in vision correction of refractive errors.

Any surgical procedure involves some risk of complications or side effects. SMILE LASIK complications, which are rare and are typically easy to treat, include infection, inflammation, Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source What Is Small Incision Lenticule Extraction? American Academy of Ophthalmology Go to Source glare and/or haloes, and under- or over correction of vision. Rest assured that we always prioritize patient safety and satisfaction at Kovach Eye Institute.

Contact Us

We are dedicated to improving vision and providing a patient-first eye care experience. Contact us with any questions about SMILE or other vision correction options.

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Doctor Kovach performing SMILE procedure

1 Chiam NPY, Mehta JS. Comparing Patient-Reported Outcomes of Laser In Situ Keratomileusis and Small-Incision Lenticule Extraction: A Review. Asia Pac J Ophthalmol (Phila). 2019 Sep-Oct;8(5):377-384.

2 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Summary of safety and effectiveness from the SMILE FDA trial. Available: Accessed November 30, 2022

3 Moshirfar M, Bruner CD, Skanchy DF, Shah T. Hyperopic small-incision lenticule extraction. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2019 Jul;30(4):229-235

4 Sekundo W, Kunert K, Russmann C, Gille A, Bissmann W, Stobrawa G, Sticker M, Bischoff M, Blum M. First efficacy and safety study of femtosecond lenticule extraction for the correction of myopia: six-month results. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2008 Sep;34(9):1513-20.

5 American Academy of Ophthalmology. What Is Small Incision Lenticule Extraction? Available: Accessed November 30, 2022.

The doctors at Kovach Eye Institute have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.

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