LASIK and Dry Eyes
July 14, 2020
Dry eyes are a common side-effect of LASIK. Think about it, your eyes need time to heal and repair after Lasik surgery, just like any body-tissue would need to heal and repair from an incision. Some nerves get cut, reducing some sensations on the surface of the eye, the eye may reduce tear production because it does not sense the need for moisture, which can cause dry eyes.1 Dry eyes can vary from mild to severe depending on multiple factors; dry eyes before the procedure, environmental conditions, age, and sex – females are more likely to suffer from dry eyes due to hormonal changes, just to name a few.2
Your body produces fewer glandular fluids as you age, this often impacts both saliva production and tear production the most. This is common and completely normal, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck with dry eyes just because you’re not in high school.
Females are more likely to experience dry eyes unrelated to Lasik, this is due to hormonal changes. Times of hormonal changes can be during puberty, menopause, or just from taking hormone contraceptives such as estrogen and progesterone.
Sometimes it’s just not about you! Wind, prolonged exposure to smoke, or staring at a computer screen are all examples of environmental conditions that can play a role in eye dryness. Many of us are guilty of staring at the computer for hours a day but remember that you don’t blink as much when you are focusing on a computer screen. Take some breaks and blink!
Reducing Dry Eye Severity
So what can you do to reduce the severity of dry eyes? There are several small changes you can take to make your eyes feel more comfortable while they heal.
Eye drops are a great place to start, preservative free eye drops are typically more gentle and contain fewer additives that could further irritate dry eyes by disrupting the tear duct film. Eye drops may be used frequently throughout the day as needed.3 If you wake up with particularly dry eyes, consider using a gel eye drop at night before going to bed, the thicker consistency allows for the eyes to stay lubricated for longer periods of time.
Diet can also play an integral role in tear production, eating a diet rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; which can naturally be found in salmon, sardines, anchovies, and flax seeds. Additionally, a supplement in pill form can be taken to increase intake if you’re not getting your omega-3’s from food.
Eyes are approximately 98% water, it should come as no surprise that better hydration will lead to less dry eyes.4 Drinking adequate amounts of water through the day allows for the salt concentration in excretory fluids to reduce; this includes urine, sweat, and tears. Too much salt concentration in tears can lead to that dry or scratchy feeling.
It sounds so simple but blinking allows for your eyes to naturally lubricate themselves. When watching TV or working on a computer, you are less likely to blink so just remember this in the weeks following your procedure.
Hopefully these tips help you prepare for your post-surgery eye care. Dry eyes are temporary and most patients feel their eyes regulate moisture normally after a few weeks. If you experience severe dry eyes or have concerns, remember to consult your eye doctor. They will be your first contact to ensuring healthy 20/20 vision.
Request a Consultation with Anh Nguyen Ophthalmology to learn more about LASIK surgery.
1. “Understanding Dry Eye Symptoms After LASIK Eye Surgery.” American Refractive Surgery Council, 25 Sept. 2018, americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org/understanding-dry-eye-symptoms-lasik/.
2. “Dry Eye.” Dry Eye , American Optometric Association, www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-co nditions/dry-eye.
3. “Pharmacy Technician’s Guide – Dry Eye Disease: Preservative versus Preservative-Free Products.” The Pharmaceutical Journal, 14 Dec. 2017, doi:10.1211/pj.2017.20203769.
4. “The Human Eye.” ZEISS International, Optical and Optoelectronic Technology, www.zeiss.com/vision-care/us/better-vision/understanding-vision/the-human-eye.html.