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How to Manage Dry Eye After LASIK Surgery

LASIK Surgery and Dry Eye Problem

LASIK is a type of eye surgery done with a laser that corrects refractive eye conditions by changing the shape of your cornea. LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.

The treatment takes less than an hour however recovery takes time and can involve several symptoms, including dry eyes. Experiencing dry eye after LASIK is common. As per studies 95% of people after LASIK experience dry eyes post a week after the procedure is done.

Though the procedure includes some risks still the procedure is still popular among people. Many people do not like wearing glasses rather going through LASIK procedure. In this article we will explain the reason behind dry eyes from LASIK, risks involved in the procedure, home remedies, and when you should contact your doctor.

What is LASIK Surgery?

By using lasers to help correct refractive problems in the eye and enhance focus, LASIK surgery helps patients with their vision. Let’s discuss in detail.

In order to improve eyesight and increase the eyes' focusing ability, a specific laser called LASIK reshapes the cornea to allow light to focus into the rear of the eye. Everyone can have their eyesight improved by LASIK, including those who have dry eyes. Dry eye can occasionally also be a side effect of LASIK surgery. When tears are insufficient to moisten the eyes, it is commonly referred to as having dry eyes. This could be the result of the eye not producing enough tears, the wrong kind of tears, or an issue with the tear film within the eye. The signs of post-LASIK dry eye can include;

  • Eye dryness

  • Irritation in the eyes

  • Frequent pain or discomfort 

  • Ocular fatigue or eye strain

  • Redness in the eyes


What happens after LASIK Surgery?


After LASIK Dry eyes can be caused for a variety of reasons.In order to form a flap during LASIK, some nerves may be temporarily damaged, which could result in a decrease in feeling known as Corneal denervation. Thus the eye may not recognize the requirement for moisture as a result of this loss of sensitivity, which leads to insufficient tear production and the symptoms of dry eyes.The fact that LASIK can alter the structure of the eye, which could prevent tears from dispersing equally, is another potential cause of dry eye complaints. The quantity of mucin in the eye, which is essential for tear stability, may also change as a result of the surgery.

Having dry eye symptoms prior to LASIK surgery is the main risk factor for getting dry eye following the procedure.

The chance of a dry eye can also be influenced by an individual's eye shape, as people who have higher or lower refractive errors may find themselves more susceptible to the symptoms of dry eye.

Other factors that can increase the risk of complications post-surgery include;

  • Keratoconus (a disease that causes thinning of the cornea)

  • Eye infections

  • Diabetes

Individuals with these diseases may not be advised for LASIK and may have an increased risk of problems, particularly if the symptoms are poorly controlled.

Can LASIK Surgery be done to a person already having Dry eyes?

An ophthalmologist or eye specialist conducts a thorough eye examination to assess a patient's suitability for laser eye surgery (LASIK). During this examination, the amount and quality of tears in the patient's eye will be assessed in order to detect any indications of dry eye.

A person may still be fine for LASIK surgery even if they have dry eyes. Since the operation may exacerbate the symptoms, the doctor can suggest they take care of the pre-existing dry eye condition and manage it.

An individual's eye doctor may recommend against LASIK treatment if they are unable to control their dry eye symptoms prior to surgery.


Self-Care and Over-the-counter medication after LASIK


There are simple ways to avoid dry eye conditions following the LASIK procedure, including home remedies and some medications. Immediately post-LASIK, your doctor might advise some eye drops and medication for a few days or weeks. You can continue with that. Generally, with time, the patient feels normal with no pain or discomfort. However, in many instances, patients complain of dry eye symptoms even later. In that case, self-care and over-the-counter medications come to the rescue, which are safe and effective.


Resting. Giving rest to the body, especially the eyes, helps both eye and mental health. After LASIK definitely you need to give enough rest to your eyes by sleeping. Also, taking naps, getting enough sleep, and relaxing boost eye health.


Protect your eyes. Your eyes are sensitive; hence, they need to be protected from UV rays, dust, and pollutants. Post-LASIK, hence, until you recover, protect your eyes by using sunglasses or protective shields.

Avoid heavy physical activity. Avoid exercise and heavy physical activity for 3 to 4 weeks post LASIK procedure to allow your body to heal.

Warm compress. Warm compress after a few days post LASIK can be tried, however do it with doctor’s advice.

Avoid digital screens. Long screen time is harmful for everyone. If you have poor eyesight or have undergone LASIK, you need to be more cautious. We blink considerably less when we look at computer, phone, or TV screens, which might strain our eyes and reduce the amount of tears we produce.


Eye drops. Artificial tears keep the eyes hydrated. Over-the-counter eye drops are available that contain ingredients to be helpful in dry eye conditions. One such premium eye drop is EyeSpa eye drops with carboxymethylcellulose sodium, which are meant to help the eyes stimulate moisture. EyeSpa eye drops are helpful in conditions like dry eye and digital eye strain.


While it is typical to have dry eyes after LASIK, you should still visit a doctor if the situation gets worse or if you are in excruciating discomfort. If months or years after LASIK you are still experiencing dry eyes, consult a physician.


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