Dry Eye After LASIK

It’s very common to experience dry eye following LASIK procedures. Learn more about why, and what to do about it.

Dry Eye After LASIK in Manhattan

Amplify EyeCare Manhattan

LASIK is an increasingly common and popular procedure for correcting refractive errors. However, it has also been known to commonly lead to dry eye following the procedure. Below we explore this issue, and what to do about it.

What is the Risk of Dry Eye After LASIK?

LASIK is a very safe surgical procedure, but as with any surgical procedure, there are risks of side effects which patients should be aware of before deciding to undergo it.

Dry eye is, by far, the most likely side effect following LASIK.

Approximately 95 percent of patients will experience some amount of dry eye following the procedure
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3235707/

 

 In most cases it subsides. Most of the time, the symptoms of dry eye experienced are mild.

What is the Risk of Dry Eye After LASIK?
Additional Factors

Additional Factors

While dry eye after LASIK is very common overall, there are some factors which have been found to increase one’s risk of developing symptoms.

These include:

  • Having previously had dry eye.
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Having been very nearsighted prior to LASIK
  • Being of Asian descent.
  • Being female.
Additional Factors

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Dry eye has several common symptoms. If you are experiencing them, especially for an extended period of time, it is likely that you are experiencing dry eye. Apart from the obvious feeling of dryness in the eyes, symptoms can include:

  • Excessive tear production
  • Mucus collection around the eyes
  • A sensation of burning or stinging in the eyes.
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye fatigue

Why Does LASIK Cause Dry Eye?

There is still debate on the exact reason why dry eye is so common following a LASIK procedure. However, there are a couple of theories.

One is that due to the nature of the procedure, which involves the reshaping of the cornea by removing some tissue from beneath it, some nerves in the area are cut. This has no impact on vision, but it can temporarily impact the communication between the cornea and the tear glands, leading to drye eye, though it is generally short-lived.

Another possibility is that post- LASIK dry eye is due to inflammation from the surgery. Additionally, the newly reshaped cornea may alter the way that the eyelid interacts with the surface of the eye. Both of these issues can lead to dry eye.

How Long Does Post-LASIK Dry Eye Last?

In the vast majority of cases, dry eye which manifests shortly after LASIK will get better within 6-12 months.

When Should I See a Doctor if I Experience Dry Eye After LASIK?

Even if you are only experiencing mild dry eye symptoms, it is a good idea to speak with a doctor, though if they are mild, you do not necessarily have to see them immediately, as standard dry eye treatments such as eye drops can be effective. However, if you experience severe discomfort, or the symptoms get worse, see a doctor immediately.

 

What is the Risk of Dry Eye After LASIK?
Additional Factors

Can I Avoid Dry Eye After LASIK?

It is difficult to completely avoid dry eye post LASIK. However, if you closely follow the postoperative instructions given to you by your eye surgeon, you will have a better chance of minimizing symptoms, if not avoiding them completely.

How Can I Treat Post-LASIK Dry Eye?

As mentioned previously, for mild cases of dry eye, basic treatments like eye drops or artificial tears can suffice. In more severe cases, you should see your doctor for advice. Even for mild cases, it is recommended to at least speak to your doctor to get recommendations as opposed to self-treating, so you can minimize the chances of making things worse.

Common Questions

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.
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.
Dry Eye After LASIK
Dr. Wernick cartoon

Summary

Dry eye is a very common side effect following LASIK procedures. However, in most cases it is mild and easily treatable. If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye following LASIK, or if you have additional questions prior to your LASIK procedure, contact Amplify EyeCare Manhattan at 212-752-6930.

 

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