Am I a Candidate for LASIK?

LASIK is a type of laser eye surgery that can replace the need to constantly wear glasses or contact lenses, however it is very important to find out if it’s the right option for you because not everyone is eligible for this procedure.

A certain type of laser eye surgery, known as LASIK, could be a wonderful alternative for people who constantly need to wear glasses or contact lenses. That being said, not everyone is a suitable candidate for this procedure and therefore before going through with the surgery there are certain qualifications that must be checked. If you book an appointment to find out if LASIK surgery is for you, you will be asked for a very detailed medical history and you will receive a comprehensive eye exam which includes all sorts of measurements to make sure that you qualify. The surgeon and professional staff will discuss with you all of the factors, the risks of complications and will set the proper expectations with you. Together you can determine if LASIK is the right choice for you.

American Family Vision Clinic

Suitable LASIK Candidate

The overall qualifications for a person to be able to get LASIK include:

  • Over age 18
  • Stable vision for at least the previous year
  • Stable glasses and contact lens prescription for at least the previous year
  • Thick enough cornea which will be measured
  • An optical prescription that falls under certain limits which the surgeon will identify
  • No active issues with the cornea
  • No significant eye conditions 
  • No dry eye issues
  • Not pregnant or nursing

In addition to all of these conditions, the candidate must accept realistic expectations that despite going through laser eye surgery, wearing glasses may still be necessary in certain situations like driving at night. Also, a person who actively participates in contact sports may not be a good candidate if they are prone to receiving frequent blows to the face. Another factor that must be considered is the cost for surgery and if it fits in your budget.

Eye Qualifications

People who are mildly nearsighted tend to have the best success rates with refractive surgery such as LASIK.

There are a variety of eye conditions that can be contraindications for LASIK surgery as it can cause many complications. These include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Keratoconus - a progressive disease the causes the cornea to become thin resulting in a decrease of vision quality
  • Various eye infections affecting different parts of the eye including keratitis, uveitis, herpes simplex
  • Eye injuries
  • Issues with the eyelids
  • Large pupils
  • Glaucoma 
  • Cataracts
Eye Qualifications
Health Conditions

Health Conditions

There are certain health considerations that must be taken into account, even if they do not seem directly related to your eyes. The surgeon will ask you details about your overall health as certain conditions can make the outcome of LASIK surgery less predictable and thus must be considered. Some health issues include:

  • Any autoimmune disorders or conditions that make healing more difficult or increase the chance of infection such as rheumatoid arthritis or HIV
  • Taking immunosuppressive medications for any reason
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pain conditions such as migraines or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Depression 

The above health issues could increase the risk of complications and the chance of having a difficult healing process. If you have any of these health conditions, please discuss it with the surgeon to decide if you can get LASIK.

Health Conditions

Alternatives to LASIK

LASIK is a popular option for those looking to reduce their dependence on glasses or contact lenses, however it’s important to know that there are many alternatives to this type of surgery. Each method of surgery comes with its own risks and benefits and it’s important to consult with your eye doctor to figure out the best option for you. Other refractive surgical procedures include photorefractive keratometry (PRK), laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK), small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE), and phakic intraocular lens.


Another alternative to LASIK which does not involve surgery and is reversible, is a very special type of contact lens called orthokeratology, otherwise known as Ortho-K. This method uses contact lenses that are only worn each night, at which time it reshapes the cornea, so that when waking up in the morning, these contact lenses are removed and the person can spend the day seeing with very clear eyesight and without any glasses or contact lenses. Please schedule an appointment at our office to discuss Ortho-K and the various laser eye surgery methods. Our eye doctor will be glad to go through the options with you to figure out which one best suits your needs.

Common Questions

LASIK is performed as a refractive surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and/ or astigmatism. After LASIK is performed, people who previously needed to wear glasses or contact lenses frequently will be able to see in certain conditions without glasses or contact lenses. Nearsightedness allows for clear vision at near, but viewing objects at a distance is unclear. People who are farsighted can see well at a distance but have difficulty seeing objects from closeby. Astigmatism causes blurry vision due to the shape or size of the cornea. A cornea that has uneven curvature results in astigmatism. The best results of LASIK tend to be for those who have mild nearsightedness.
The success rate for LASIK is very high, however it is still important to be aware of the rare possible side effects. Common side effects include dry eyes and visual disturbances, but for most people these go away after a few weeks or months so they are not considered to be long term issues. The possible side effects include: Dry eyes, Glare, Halos, Double vision, Under or overcorrection, Infection. If you are considering LASIK, the surgeon and professional team will properly discuss with you the risks involved.
The vast majority of LASIK surgery procedures are successful without significant pain following the procedure. In most cases there will be some slight discomfort for a few days following surgery. In some cases, patients may experience severe pain after LASIK surgery for up to one month, and in extremely rare cases for longer than one month. In the unfortunate case that you do experience severe or extended pain, you should see your eye surgeon or optometrist that is co-managing the surgery right away. There are a number of flap-related issues that can cause severe pain, but these issues can usually be fixed. The most common cause of flap issues is non-compliance with post-operative instructions. For example, rubbing your eyes after surgery is not recommended, regardless of how itchy or irritated they are. The corneal flap could become dislodged when you rub your eyes immediately after LASIK surgery. Patients should also avoid getting their eyes wet with streaming water, such as when showering. If you do not follow these instructions, you may experience pain.
Am I a Candidate for LASIK?
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


A certain type of laser eye surgery, known as LASIK, is an elective surgery which changes the shape and curvature of the front part of your eye in order to replace the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. For many who wear glasses or contact lenses, this is an exciting alternative. However, not every person is qualified or suitable for this type of surgery. It is very important to understand the necessary factors which make this a viable option. Patients searching for advanced medical eye care visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of medical eye care 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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