Dry Eye after Cataract surgery

You may experience dry eye following cataract surgery. Learn more about why this is, and what you can do about it.

Dry Eye after Cataract surgery in Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

As with many other eye procedures, cataract surgery can lead to dry eye. Even if you don’t have a prior history of dry eye, there is a chance you’ll have symptoms following your cataract procedure.

Why is Dry Eye Common After Cataract Surgery?

Studies show that more than half of people who get cataract surgery experience symptoms of dry eye. In most cases, it is temporary, and the severity can vary.

A major cause of dry eye is disruptions in tear production or the tear film. This can occur as a result of the cataract procedure, due to the proximity of the surgical procedure to the corneal nerves and the risk of irritation which can lead to inflammation. The type of cataract surgery can affect the degree of dryness experienced. 

Cataract surgery can also exacerbate dry eye symptoms in people who previously had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic.

Why is Dry Eye Common After Cataract Surgery?
Symptoms of Dry Eye

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Dry eye has a variety of symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these following your cataract surgery, contact our doctor to schedule an appointment for an examination.

In addition to the obvious feeling of dryness, dry eye symptoms can include a stinging or burning sensation, blurry vision, excess tearing, and pain while wearing contact lenses.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Preoperative Assessment

Before your cataract surgery, you should get a thorough evaluation of your ocular surface. These assessments, which typically use specialized dye to detect corneal damage or foreign objects, can give your doctor a better idea about any risks there may be in the procedure for you, including experiencing dry eye symptoms afterward. 

Also, if you already suffer from dry eye prior to the procedure, make sure the doctor is aware. You may receive recommendations of things you can do both before and after the surgery to decrease the chances of developing dry eye symptoms afterward, or to mitigate the severity. These may be at-home or in-office treatment recommendations.

Postoperative Assessment and Treatment

Following your cataract surgery, the doctor will perform tests to make sure the operation was successful, and to determine whether you are at risk of dry eye symptoms. Similar to preoperative assessments, these tests may involve the use of specialized dyes to detect any issues on the cornea or the ocular surface. Additionally, you might be asked to fill out surveys to help the doctor gauge any symptoms you may be experiencing. Examples of such surveys include the Standard Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness (SPEED) or the Ocular Surface Disease Index (ODSI) surveys.

Topical artificial tears are commonly suggested as a treatment option for people with dry eye after cataract surgery. There are a variety of tear formulations available, for patients with particularly sensitive eyes or other issues that may make standard artificial tears ineffective or unsafe.

Why is Dry Eye Common After Cataract Surgery?
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Dry eyes are not uncommon following cataract surgery. However, in most cases it is relatively mild and easy to treat. It is advised to speak with your doctor before your procedure about any risk, especially if you previously suffered from dry eye. If you are considering cataract surgery, and have additional questions or wish to schedule a consultation, contact American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121.

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