It is not uncommon for LASIK eye surgery patients to experience dry eyes after surgery. In fact, nearly half of all LASIK patients do experience temporary, mild dry eye symptoms following surgery. For some, the condition may linger for several months.
Sometimes, dry eye is a side effect of LASIK eye surgery, but other times, patients already had dry eyes prior to surgery. During LASIK eye surgery, the surface of the eye is penetrated and corneal nerve sensitivity can be reduced. The severity of myopia determines how deep the laser must go to reshape the eye. The deeper the laser must go to remove corneal tissue, the greater the chances that corneal nerve sensitivity will be reduced. When the eye fails to sense a need for moisture and lubrication, it does not produce adequate tears and dry eyes result.
To treat dry eyes, many eye surgeons recommend the use of lubricating eye drops to help the eyes maintain moisture. Some LASIK patients will be given prescription eye drops. If dry eyes are a potential risk for you, your surgeon may even recommend the use of eye drops prior to surgery. In severe cases, PRK or other alternative vision correction procedures may be recommended to reduce the risk of dry eyes.
During your pre-surgery screening, your doctor will conduct any of a variety of tests to detect dry eyes. Dry eyes may affect the outcome of LASIK eye surgery in that the quality and quantity of tears your eyes produce can affect healing time. During the pre-surgery screening, your doctor may also be able to detect other conditions that may be causing your dry eyes.
Other factors that can cause dry eye before or after LASIK include:
- Older age
- Females who have experienced menopause
- Taking allergy medication
- Taking blood pressure medication
- Taking antidepressants
- Some autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome
- Living in a dry climate
Rarely will dry eyes or the risk of dry eyes eliminate you as a candidate for LASIK eye surgery, but your doctor will consider both severity of your dry eyes and how effective pre-surgery treatment is before recommending LASIK.
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