It’s very common to experience dry eye following LASIK procedures. Learn more about why, and what to do about it.
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.
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
In most cases it subsides. Most of the time, the symptoms of dry eye experienced are mild.
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.
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:
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.
In the vast majority of cases, dry eye which manifests shortly after LASIK will get better within 6-12 months.
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.
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.
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.
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 American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121.