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 Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

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. Zurcher 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 American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121.

 

Testimonials


  • 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.

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