Dry Eyes After LASIK Surgery: What You Need To Know
Your LASIK surgery was a success and your vision is improving daily. But for some reason your eyes are watery and itchy. There’s no need to panic because you’re probably just suffering from dry eyes. LASIK is a very safe procedure and dry eye is a known post-operative side effect. Research shows that more than half of all LASIK patients experience some symptoms of dry eyes after surgery.
This will usually clear up as your eyes heal. However, symptoms can often last for weeks or even months. For that reason, it’s important to treat dry eyes when they first appear.
You may have had dry eyes before LASIK
Around half the people who experience dry eyes after LASIK surgery actually had symptoms before the procedure. This fact is not surprising really; contact lens wearers often complain of irritated or sore eyes. Rather than go back to wearing glasses, they look into having LASIK to correct their refractive error.
Diagnosing dry eyes prior to surgery means the condition can be effectively treated. Even if you are not exhibiting signs of dry eye, you may still be prescribed eye drops before surgery. This will minimize the chance of dry eyes occurring after LASIK.
How does LASIK cause dry eyes?
During LASIK surgery, some of the nerves in the cornea are cut, reducing sensitivity, especially on the surface of the eye. If the eye does not sense the need for lubrication, it will not produce enough tears which causes dry eyes.
Another reason for dry eyes after LASIK may be due to the altered shape of the cornea. While the eye heals, tears become unevenly distributed. How the eyelids interact with the surface of the eye may also change your blinking habits. Again, this can lead to dry eyes developing.
How long does dry eyes after LASIK last?
Everyone is different so it’s difficult to say how long dry eyes will affect you after LASIK. For some patients, it lasts just a few days. For the majority, symptoms will remain for a few months. In extreme cases, it may take up to a year for dry eyes to get better.
Can dry eyes after LASIK be treated
Most cases of dry eyes after LASIK can be treated with artificial tears. These are eye drops that can be purchased over the counter. Always mention that you have been experiencing dry eyes at your follow-up appointments. Your optometrist may prescribe additional eye drops to help relieve symptoms.
If dry eye symptoms persist, book an appointment to see your eye surgeon as soon as possible. If you have any more serious problems such as pain or vision impairment, see a doctor immediately.
Preventing dry eyes after LASIK surgery
As well as using artificial tears, be sure to keep yourself well hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help with tear production and keep your eyes lubricated.
Studies also show that omega-3 fatty acid can help maintain healthy tears. Tears contain oil which prevents them from evaporating too quickly. Incorporating fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon and trout, into your diet will help to prevent dry eyes after LASIK.
It’s important to remember that the symptoms of dry eyes after LASIK are usually mild and will disappear with time. But if you have any questions, please contact us at Dello Russo Laser Vision for a consultation.