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Post-LASIK Dry Eye – Common and Treatable

If you have devel­oped dry eye after under­go­ing LASIK, you are not alone. Dry eye is an extreme­ly com­mon after­ef­fect of LASIK, affect­ing approx­i­mate­ly 50 per­cent of patients. The symp­toms are usu­al­ly mild, and they typ­i­cal­ly don’t last long. How­ev­er, in some cas­es, dry eye can per­sist for months or years.

The rea­son so many peo­ple expe­ri­ence dry eye fol­low­ing LASIK is that the cre­ation of the corneal flaps affects the nerves that reg­u­late the pro­duc­tion of tears. For this rea­son, if you are pre­dis­posed to dry eye, a pro­ce­dure oth­er than LASIK may be the best way to improve your vision while less­en­ing your risk of devel­op­ing dry eye.

Ear­ly detec­tion is the key to avoid­ing severe dry eye. By under­go­ing tests with your eye doc­tor, you can avoid this bur­den­some con­di­tion.

What Causes Dry Eye?

Dry eye can be caused by genet­ics, eye surgery and oth­er fac­tors.

Eye surgery some­times reduces the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the corneal nerves, which can pre­vent your eye from rec­og­niz­ing the need for lubri­ca­tion and cause you to pro­duce less tears. The corneal flap cre­at­ed dur­ing LASIK makes this pro­ce­dure more like­ly than “sur­face abla­tion” pro­ce­dures (e.g., PRK or epi-LASIK) to cause this prob­lem.

Dry eye isn’t always a result of LASIK or anoth­er eye surgery. Many peo­ple expe­ri­ence dry eye well before their LASIK pro­ce­dure. Con­tact lens use, for exam­ple, is a very com­mon cause of dry eye.

How is it Treated?

Dry eye can lead to dis­com­fort and less-than-sat­is­fac­to­ry results. Con­se­quent­ly, your eye sur­geon may attempt to help you pre­vent it before it even devel­ops.

The fol­low­ing can help with tear pro­duc­tion both before and after LASIK surgery:

  • Pre­scrip­tion eye drops
  • Sup­ple­ments con­tain­ing flaxseed oil and/or fish oil
  • Anti-inflam­ma­to­ries such as cor­ti­cos­teroids
  • Stay­ing well-hydrat­ed (drink lots of water)

If you devel­op dry eye after hav­ing LASIK, your sur­geon may advise you to have punc­tal plugs insert­ed into your eyes’ drainage chan­nels to increase mois­ture.

Screening for Dry Eye

Because dry eye can affect the out­come of your LASIK pro­ce­dure, your sur­geon may con­duct screen­ing tests to assess your tear pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion, as well as your tear film, pri­or to the pro­ce­dure. These tests will help your sur­geon deter­mine if you are like­ly to devel­op dry eye after your surgery.

Risk Factors

Risk fac­tors for dry eye fol­low­ing LASIK include the fol­low­ing:

Severe myopia. If you have severe myopia (near­sight­ed­ness), you may be at increased risk of devel­op­ing dry eye after LASIK, because your cornea will need to be treat­ed at a deep­er lev­el.

Aging. This is a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor, espe­cial­ly for women who have been through menopause.

Cer­tain med­ica­tions. If you take anti­his­t­a­mines for your aller­gies, or if you take blood pres­sure med­ica­tion or anti­de­pres­sants, you may be at increased risk of devel­op­ing dry eye after LASIK.

Dry weath­er or envi­ron­ment. Air con­di­tion­ing and indoor heat­ing cause many peo­ple to devel­op dry eye, as do dry cli­mates such as the desert.

To learn more about caus­es, treat­ments, risk fac­tors and oth­er fac­tors per­tain­ing to dry eye, sched­ule an appoint­ment with your eye doc­tor today.



November 15th, 2017|Comments Off on Post-LASIK Dry Eye – Common and Treatable

About the Author:

Born in Connecticut and raised in Upstate New York , Dr. Stetson graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University in New York, and then earned an MD degree with honors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He distinguished himself again in residency at the Albany Medical Center, where he obtained the highest percentile in the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Examinations. Dr. Stetson has performed more than 50,000 refractive surgeries and has been on staff at Diamond Vision since 2004, before becoming Medical Director in 2006.


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