Dry eyes are no fun: They itch, sting and tear up. They’re a possible side effect of LASIK eye surgery, but usually they clear up within the first year of recovery. Some experts have estimated that as many as eight out of 10 LASIK patients deal with some dry eye symptoms in the weeks following their procedures.
Why does LASIK create temporary dry eyes?
Post-LASIK dry eye can be caused by how the surgery itself enhances vision. LASIK surgery involves reshaping the cornea to improve vision, but altering the curvature of the cornea can also affect the tear film. The creation of a corneal flap and ablation, or removal, of corneal tissue, might also affect corneal nerve fibers integral to tear production, thus resulting in dry eyes in the days or weeks following surgery.
Dry eyes can be treated in several ways. Your doctor might suggest preservative-free artificial tear drops. If you suffer from keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye syndrome, topical cyclosporine prescription eye drops can offer additional relief. Even blinking more frequently while at the computer can help with dry eyes in the weeks following a LASIK procedure.
Some people have dry eyes before they have LASIK. It is important for these people to let their surgeons know about this condition before having laser eye surgery. Often, a LASIK surgeon will want to treat a case of dry eyes before performing the procedure.
How do I know if I’ll get dry eyes?
A well-trained eye doctor can measure the severity of your dry eyes. In some cases, your doctor might determine that your condition is too severe and that you are not a good candidate for LASIK. Laser eye surgery is often not a good idea for patients with unmanaged dry eye syndrome because the LASIK procedure can cause further drying of the eyes.