What are side effects of Lasik Eye Surgery?: Dry Eyes

                   How to Prevent and Treat Dry Eyes After Lasik?

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The most common side effect people may experience after LASIK eye surgery is dry eye. 40 per cent of patients report having dry eyes after one month of surgery. Dry eye after LASIK has an effect on your vision that causes discomfort. It's not uncommon for patients to get dry eye before LASIK also. This could increase the possibility of experiencing dry eye after LASIK surgery.

This article covers what causes dry eye after LASIK eye surgery, who is the most susceptible to dry eye after LASIK, common screening tests for dry eye, and dry eye treatments.

Why LASIK Causes Dry Eyes?

One reason dry eye could occur because of LASIK can be attributed to changes that happen during surgery. When performing LASIK, the eye doctor creates a flap within the cornea. Making this flap could cause less sensitivity in the cornea notably within the first 3 months after the surgery. This less corneal sensitivity could cause fewer tears to be produced in the eye and less blinking, both of which may create a dry eye.

Some women experiencing dry eye after LASIK could have had dry eye prior to the surgery that has been undiagnosed. 38 per cent to 75 per cent of individuals having LASIK could have dry eye before surgery.

Some Women Get LASIK because of Dry Eye

Dry eye could be the reason why some women go for LASIK. For example, these women could have problems wearing contact lenses due to dry eye symptoms. They then sought out LASIK instead of wearing contacts.

If your dry eye is severe before LASIK and doesn't improve after the treatment, an eye specialist may recommend that you look for alternatives to LASIK to enhance your vision.

Is Dry Eye Permanent?

  • Dry eye after LASIK isn't going to be a permanent condition. In several cases, dry eye symptoms last only a couple of months. After that dry eye, signs and symptoms should start to improve.
  • About 50 per cent of patients who have had LASIK done experience dry eye after one week of surgery. This gets reduced to 40 per cent for one-month post-surgery and 20 per cent to 40 per cent six months after surgery.
  • Only 1per cent of patients who have had LASIK still have dry eye even after one year after the surgery.

LASIK Dry Eye Symptoms

Dry eye that happens before or after LASIK surgery is related to identical symptoms, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • A burning sensation in the eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Itchiness in the eye
  • Making few or many tears. If your eyes are dry, they will attempt to produce a lot of tears to keep them moist.
  • Mucus assembling around the eyes
  • Pain or discomfort in windy weather or if you're close to current air especially if you are near a fan or an air vent.

Who has higher chances of Dry Eyes after LASIK?

  • Although dry eye is a common risk for anyone having LASIK eye surgery, there are women who are more prone to dry eye after the surgery. They can be:
  • Women having shortsightedness before LASIK. 
  • Being of the age fifty or over can cause tear film changes that happen with age and can increase your dry eye risk.
  • Women who are menopausal. Their hormonal changes increase the prospect of you having dry eyes.
  • Dry eye affects females two times more than males, and it's typically severe for females.
  • Those who are of Asian descent: if you are of an Asian you may experience a higher incidence of dry eye.
  • Those taking certain medications: They include antihistamines and antidepressants and blood pressure medications. These kinds of medicine can cause dry eyes.
  • Where you live: women who live in dry weather or a dry climate have higher chances of having dry eyes.
  • Women with autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome and arthritis. Mostly women with autoimmune diseases are advised against LASIK, however, it's possible that you find out you have an autoimmune disorder after having surgery.
  • Those who have diabetes are more likely to get dry eye due to decreased sensation in the cornea.

Screening for Dry Eyes

Your ophthalmologist could use many kinds of tests to measure the extent of your dry eye before and after LASIK. The tests used to diagnose dry eye include the following:

  • A slit lamp exam: This uses a special microscope known as a slit lamp to have an in-depth look at the eyes.
  • Schirmer testing: With this, the doctor puts a thin paper strip underneath the eyes and sees if the eye produces enough tears to keep the paper moist.
  • Tear breakup time: This uses a dye to look at how long the layers of tears remain in your eyes after blinking.
  • Tear film staining: Applying a dye to the eye's surface will reveal the areas where there is damage.
  • MMP-9 testing: It stands for matrix metalloproteinase-9 and this if found in the eye may indicate inflammation. MMP-9 helps in assessing dry eyes.

In addition to those tests, your ophthalmologist will ask if you have any dry eye symptoms. It is entirely possible to have dry eyes without noticeable symptoms.

Treating Dry Eye Before and after LASIK

  • Although your dry eye symptoms will go away after some months, you'll still require treatment for the time when you have the symptoms.
  • There are many dry eye treatments out there. Your ophthalmologist could advise you to try different combos of treatments before finding the right one for you.
  • Sometimes, if you are not happy with the result of LASIK, treating dry eye could help your vision to improve.

Here are a couple of the medical treatments for dry eye that you simply could try:

  • Lubricating eye drops: known as artificial tears, these are over-the-counter drops to keep your eyes moist. Several eye doctors recommend these free lubricating eye drops to avoid irritation in the eyes. Preservative-free eye drops are usually more costly.
  • Eye ointments: These are another over-the-counter, however, they're thicker than eye drops so that they coat the eye better. Your ophthalmologist could advise you to use these at nighttime, as they can cause blurry vision.
  • Prescription medications that help in creating a lot of natural tears: These medications are Restasis or Cequa (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) and Xiidra (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution).
  • Punctal plugs: These plugs are placed in your tear ducts to assist preserve your natural tears.
  • Scleral contact lenses: These are rigid, gas-permeable contacts that can help in the treatment of the dry eye.
  • Autologous bodily fluid eye drops: These are eye drops made up of a person’s blood and mixed with a sterile saline solution. This combination has properties that are beneficial for the tear film. The attention drops specially created area unit nearer to natural tears than artificial tears.
  • Allergy treatment: dry eye can get worse by different irritants, like allergies. If you discover your dry eye symptoms aggravate around certain allergy triggers, your ophthalmologist will advise you to get tested for allergies.

Talk to your doctor about the medications that you use: It will help you in discovering if one or more than one of these medications makes your dry eye worse.

  • In addition to the medical treatments for dry eye, there are some things you can try to soothe dry eye symptoms:
  • Add a lot of moisture to the indoor air with indoor humidifiers.
  • Avoid fans, particularly at night.
  • Minimize your use of appliances that apply heat or wind close to the eyes, like hair dryers or vents in the car.
  • Wear shades outside, particularly once it's windy.
  • Compress your eyes with a hot cloth many times every day.
  • Make sure to drink enough water
  • Talk to your doctor about the animal oil or oil for omega-3 fatty acids. This might help you improve dry eye symptoms.

When to See a doctor?

While experiencing dry eye after LASIK be sure to mention your symptoms to your doctor at your follow-up appointment so that they can be e certain your eyes are healthy. See your doctor sooner if your signs and symptoms are severe. If you find that the eye drops you use are typically more than your doctor recommends and dry eye symptoms are becoming worse, you should see your ophthalmologist. Make an appointment if you still experience dry eye after six months of LASIK.

Dry eye is common after LASIK, due to the changes to the eye after surgery. In most patients, dry eye can last for weeks or months after surgery. Though it's hard to predict, but some patients are at high risk to get dry eyes. Eye doctors will work with patients to screen and treat dry eye.

Treatments for dry eye include eye drops, ointments, prescription medications, punctal plugs, and scleral contact lenses. Lifestyle changes like using a humidifier, drinking a lot of water, limiting exposure to the sun and wind, and using omega-3 fatty acids can help.

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