Why Can LASIK cause Dry Eyes? – Common Causes and Symptoms

Why Can LASIK cause Dry Eyes? – Common Causes and Symptoms

Dry Eye Issues Prior to LASIK

There are a number of reasons people have dry eyes even before LASIK surgery. They include:

  • Living in unusually dry climates or environments
  • Autoimmune disease such as Sjorgen’s Syndrome
  • Anti-depressants, some blood pressure medications, and allergy medications may result in dry eyes
  • Older age or women who have undergone menopause

Common Causes of Dry Eyes after LASIK

During the procedure, a flap is created (thin layer of tissue) under which the laser energy is directed for vision correction. Also part of the procedure, very fine cornea nerves can be severed, the same nerves that signal the lacrimal gland to produce tears. While a normal part of the LASIK procedure, severing these nerves can actually cause fewer tears to be produced after the procedure is completed. Essentially, your eyes fail to sense the need for lubrication resulting in what people call dry eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes after LASIK

Symptoms of dry eyes really depend on the severity of the issue. In moderate cases, you will experience discomfort because of the inability to produce tears when necessary. However, in more severe cases, your vision may become increasing blurry. Over time, the inability of your eyes to produce tears can damage your eyes.

Treatment of Dry Eyes before or after LASIK

If the LASIK surgeon knows in advance of the procedure that you have tendency toward dry eyes, they may take certain precautions. Corrective vision procedures, such as PRK, that do not involve creating a flap on the eye’s surface may be recommended in severe cases of dry eyes before the procedure.

In less severe cases, building up the eye’s ability to lubricate may be suggested. This means using lubricating eye drops or other therapies in the weeks prior to the procedure. Some surgeons may even advise you to take fish oil or flaxseed oil in the weeks leading up to the procedure. All of these are measures to help prevent dry eyes resulting from the procedure.

Cyclosporine is a prescription eye drop that may be prescribed by your surgeon if you experience dry eyes after LASIK. It helps recover corneal sensitivity after the procedure and helps return the normal production of tears in your eyes. Corticosteroids (administered as eye drops) and other anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed. Additionally, punctual plugs can help block tear drainage channels to allow the eye to remain moist.