Why Do Patients Get Dry Eyes After LASIK?
Submitted by Dr. Dean Dornic on Thu 07/14/2011 - 11:46
The LASIK procedure may cause many patients to experience dry eye symptoms after their surgery. This is especially true if there was tendency toward dry eyes before LASIK. But why do so many patients experience dry eyes after LASIK? The first step of the LASIK procedure is the creation of a corneal flap, a thin layer of tissue under which laser pulses are applied to reshape the cornea in order to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Anatomically, when the flap is created, the very fine cornea nerves may be severed as part of the LASIK procedure.
These nerves detect how wet the eye is and signal the lacrimal gland to produce tears. So, sometimes, the temporary interruption of the corneal nerve impulses can actually cause a lesser amount of tears to be produced, resulting in dry eyes after LASIK. If the Dry Eyes after LASIK are moderate or severe, your vision may actually be blurry due to the tear film instability. Because normal sensation may not be present as a result of severed corneal nerves patients may not feel the sandy, gritty sensation normally associated with dry eyes. Fortunately, virtually all dry eyes symptoms after LASIK are temporary and gradually decrease over time as the corneal nerves grow back.
Most patients will have a resolution of dry eye symptoms within a few months of having theirLASIK procedure. In some extreme cases, symptoms may persist for over one year. All LASIK patients will need to use lubricating drops frequently during the first few weeks after their LASIK procedure. Other measures are occasionally necessary to improve comfort and visual clarity. These include the use of oral Omega 3 supplements, punctal plugs and prescription eye drops such as Restasis.
During your consultation it is important to disclose any symptoms you may have of dry eyes and to disclose any medications you are taking that might predispose you to dry eyes after your LASIK procedure. Your LASIK surgeon can then take the necessary steps to prepare you for your LASIK procedure and minimize the severity of dry eyes from LASIK. Working together with your surgeon will maximize your chances of a smooth post-operative course and allow you to obtain the best possible results from your LASIK procedure. Watch this blog for further tips on how to minimize symptoms of dry eyes after LASIK.