Dry Eye After LASIK: What to Expect
What is LASIK?
LASIK eye surgery is the world’s most popular elective procedure. More than 28 million LASIK procedures have been performed across the globe.
LASIK is known as a refractive surgery, since it corrects a variety of common vision complaints, including: near-sightedness, far-sightedness, presbyopia and astigmatism. After LASIK, almost all patients find that their reliance on eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct their vision is significantly reduced, or removed altogether.
LASIK has an extremely high success rate, but this doesn’t mean that it is the ideal solution for everyone. A comprehensive consultation with your eye doctor is essential and will be required, before any procedure can be booked. There are also a variety of side effects that should be considered, especially a condition known as dry eye.
What is dry eye?
Unsurprisingly, dry eye is a condition whereby there isn’t enough natural lubrication in the eyes. This causes a variety of symptoms including eyes that feel itchy, sore, dry and even gritty.
The eyes can appear red and swollen, and your eyelids may stick together when you first wake up. Dry eyes can also impact your vision and sufferers may find that their sight blurs often, only improving when they blink.
A number of conditions can cause dry eye, but it is also a common side effect of LASIK surgery.
Why dry eye after LASIK?
Two mechanisms of your eye are temporarily affected during LASIK surgery. The first is the nerves that run along the surface of your eye. The damage caused by the laser is completely reversible, because the nerves have the ability to regenerate, which will happen between three and six months after your procedure. Further improvement will continue in the subsequent months and years.
The second mechanism affected is the function of the glands that produce the moisture in our eyes. This is because the affected nerves can no longer transmit the right information to the gland, meaning that it doesn’t produce the usual amount of lubricating oil.
How likely am I to experience dry eye after my LASIK surgery?
Every patient has a slightly different experience of LASIK, and so the side effects can vary from person to person. However, most reports suggest that around 40-50% of patients experience some degree of dry eye in the days and weeks after their surgery.
- Some demographics of people are more at risk of developing dry eyes than others. These include:
- Older people, particularly females who have already passed through the menopause.
- People with autoimmune conditions such as Sjorgen’s syndrome.
- Patients who are taking certain allergy medications, blood pressure medications or anti-depressants.
Those who work in particularly dry environments or climates.
Helping improve the symptoms of dry eye after LASIK
If you have dry eye before your LASIK surgery then this should be mentioned at your initial consultation, so that Dr. Goel can make a formal diagnosis.
This will also be the time when any recommendations to improve your condition are made, such as using eye drops or taking supplements, which often happens before you can undertake the procedure.
If you are likely to be at risk of developing dry eye after your LASIK surgery, you will be given some advice as to how you can help improve the symptoms. This may include a prescription for lubricating eye drops and to boost your hydration levels by drinking plenty of water.
Some studies suggest that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements and eating lots of food containing “good” fats, such as avocado, oily fish, and nuts and seeds, can help to lubricate the eye and maintain healthy tear film.
If you are interested in LASIK and are worried about experiencing dry eye after your surgery, get in touch with Dr. Goel’s team who will be able to reassure you and prepare you for any side effects of your procedure.