LASIK surgery assists thousands of people every year to achieve better eyesight, as well as a better quality of life. However, it is first and foremost a surgery, and like all surgeries, it can have some side effects. These side effects are, for the large part, temporary and short-lived. They can also have a better chance to be avoided altogether if proper protocol is followed. The best way to know if you qualify for LASIK if you live in or near Santa Monica is to talk to one of our doctors.
What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by a dysfunction in tear production. Dry eye causes the eyes to become irritated, red and dry. This creates an annoying and sometimes painful itching or burning sensation. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and are often easily controlled with lubricating eye drops. Dry eye syndrome can affect vision, even down to the ability to put in and wear contact lenses.
This disease can stem from a variety of sources, and in some cases, patients may have it before surgery. It can be caused by other diseases or conditions (such as blepharitis, thyroid diseases, arthritis, etc.), lifestyle (the ambient climate, wind, smoke), and even certain medications. Generally, when a patient already has dry eye syndrome, they will not qualify for LASIK surgery.
LASIK can sometimes be the cause of dry eye, however. Some of the nerves inside the eye can be slightly damaged, which affects your eyes’ ability to know when it needs to produce tears. Since your eyes become more desensitized, your eye does not know when it should produce tears. Luckily, in the majority of cases, this clears up quickly, though it can take several weeks in some instances.
What Happens If I Have Dry Eye?
Don’t panic. There are plenty of treatments available that can suit your needs. Often, you will be prescribed artificial tears to help you through the symptoms while your body heals from the surgery. You can also use over the counter drops in a pinch.
If the problem is chronic, you may need an additional treatment to plug the drainage ducts in your eyes. This prevents any moisture that is on your eye from draining too quickly. This can be a permanent treatment, or you can get removable plugs inserted.
You may also be tested for MGD (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction) if it is suspected that the problem was unrelated to the surgery. MGD occurs when the glands that produce the oil that makes up part of your tears are blocked by a waxy buildup. This can be treated with hot compresses or a special machine that sends pulses to break up the buildups.
If you have questions or concerns about dry eye after LASIK surgery, feel free to contact us for more information. Dry eye symptoms after LASIK are common but do not always lead to chronic dry eye. If you would like to know if you are a LASIK candidate, contact the Santa Monica Eye Medical Group to schedule your LASIK consultation!