Your Guide to Alternatives to LASIK

LASIK is a popular option for people who don’t want to depend on wearing glasses or contact lenses for clear vision, however there are many alternatives to LASIK so it’s important to know the available options in order to choose the best method for you.

LASIK tends to be a very well known kind of laser eye surgery, however there are many alternatives, including different types of refractive surgeries. There are specific factors which are crucial in order to qualify for LASIK surgery which means that it is not a suitable option for everyone. In addition, the method for this kind of surgery involves forming a flap in the cornea which is the clear part that covers the surface of the eye and plays an essential role in our visual system. This flap has advantages, in addition to disadvantages. Thankfully, there are a variety of other options available for refractive surgeries so that each person can weigh out the benefits and risks to figure out the best approach for their vision and lifestyle. A brief overview of alternatives to LASIK is provided below, but please schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss the possibilities in depth. Together you can figure out which method is best for you, for your health, and for your eyesight.

American Family Vision Clinic

Orthokeratology (Ortho K)

Before delving into various refractive surgery options, it’s important to know that there is an alternative option to LASIK which does not involve surgery, and thus it is not permanent. This method is known as Ortho K which uses special lenses that reshape the cornea while the person wears the lenses each night. Upon waking up in the morning, the lenses are removed and the person can enjoy clear vision throughout the day without wearing glasses or contact lenses. If the person wishes to stop using Ortho K, the cornea goes back to its original shape, making this a reversible and very effective option. For more information, please schedule an appointment at our office and our eye doctor will gladly discuss orthokeratology further with you to see if it’s a suitable option.

Photorefractive Keratometry (PRK)

Both PRK and LASIK use the exact same type of laser for the procedure and both reshape the cornea. The difference is that they each work on a different layer of the cornea. As a result, PRK is suitable for people with thin corneas who do not qualify for LASIK. In LASIK, a flap is formed in the cornea during surgery, whereas in PRK that is not the case. This makes PRK a more suitable option for people who live a very active lifestyle which can increase risk for complications due to the flap. PRK is a very quick procedure in which the outer layer of the cornea is removed and then grows back over time, and therefore there’s a longer period of healing. LASIK generally takes a few days to heal, as opposed to PRK which takes approximately a month to heal. Most people who get LASIK can see clearly within a few hours after surgery, but in photorefractive keratometry most people will gain 70% of their vision after one week and can drive at that point, yet it takes around a month to be mostly healed. 

Common Questions

Depends. If you got LASIK to correct your distance vision, you may need to wear contact lenses again once you reach presbyopia. Presbyopia is a normal part of age processing that starts around age 40-50 resulting in near vision blur. Thus you would need reading glasses/contacts to help you see clearly up close. Additionally, the front part of your eye is flattened after LASIK, so your eye doctor will have to choose a contact lens with a flatter curvature to properly fit on your eye.
The answer is yes and no. If your goal is to stay out of glasses and contacts throughout the day then there is an alternative called ortho-keratalogy (ortho-K) hard contact lenses. These are specialty lenses that are custom designed for you to sleep with at night; the lenses gently applies pressure and reshape your cornea (the front curvature of your eye) to safely and gently improve your vision, such that when you wake up in the morning and remove the lenses you’re able to see clearly without any correction throughout the day. However, the difference between LASIK and ortho-K is that ortho-K is not permanent, you have to wear the ortho-K lenses every night or else your cornea will go back to its original shape. Talk to your eye doctor to see which treatment you’re a better candidate for.
To see clearly after LASIK, it takes only a few days or less, whereas for PRK, it takes about a month. As long as the procedure is done by a licensed, experienced surgeon, the results should be the same. When it comes to recommendations about any surgical procedure it is important to consult our optometrist to determine what procedure would be best for you and receive a referral to a recommended eye surgeon in Olympia. A PRK procedure leaves no flap on your cornea, making it safer and more effective in the long run. LASIK leaves behind a flap that in rare cases may sustain greater damage if the eye is injured.
Your Guide to Alternatives to LASIK
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


LASIK is a wonderful option for refractive surgery, but every procedure comes with its benefits and risks. There are other methods for refractive surgery and non-surgical options, available for those who are not qualified to get LASIK for various reasons. Please schedule Book an Appointment with our eye doctor to figure out what is the best option for you. You can schedule an eye exam with our eye doctor by calling (360) 491-2121. Patients who are nearsighted or looking for a LASIK alternative visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of contact lens services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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