If you wear contacts or suffer from allergies, you're no stranger to the itching and tearing up associated with dry eyes. Of course, if you wear contacts, you know the hassle of putting something in your eye every day. As far as glasses go, you either squint from the sun or have to change out your glasses every time you go outside. In other words, you're ready for a solution to your nearsightedness. Discover the association between dry eyes and Lasik so that you can talk to your surgeon about potential treatments.
Dry Eyes Caused by Lasik
Temporary dry eye is the most common after-effect of Lasik surgery, according to the National Institute of Health. The process of Lasik involves the surgeon going in and separating a layer of the cornea to form a flap. The cornea's shape is then altered by laser to enhance your vision.
Creating a corneal flap and altering the shape of the cornea itself affects the process of tear production. Sometimes the nerves that alert the body that the eyes need lubrication are affected, so the tear production process is interrupted.
Dry Eyes Before Lasik
Some people have dry eyes before even undergoing Lasik. The most common causes of dry eyes include the following:
- Medical conditions such as diabetes and thyroid disorders
- Hormones, such as postmenopausal imbalances
- Structural damage caused by inflammation
Likewise, some medications such as antidepressants and antihistamines cause dry eyes.
Treating Dry Eyes Before Surgery
If you experience regular or even occasional dry eyes, it's imperative you tell your surgeon. Having dry eyes does not eliminate the possibility of Lasik surgery. Rather, most surgeons opt to treat the situation before performing surgery.
Your Lasik surgeon has more than one option for treating dry eyes before surgery. One option is having you use preservative-free lubricating drops. Another option is implanting polymer plugs, or punctal plugs, in the tear ducts. These plugs prevent the tear film from draining out of your eyes, thus keeping them lubricated.
Preventing Dry Eyes After Surgery
Before even performing surgery, surgeons carefully examine the individual anatomy of patients' eyes as well as the chemical makeup of the tears. It's up to the patients to inform their surgeons about medications so that they have a thorough understanding of the associated medical history.
After surgery, you'll need to use lubricating drops frequently while your eyes heal. This is a normal part of the healing process. While most patients experience temporary dry eyes after Lasik you can minimize the effects by drinking lots of water, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and taking omega-3 fatty acids to promote a healthy tear film.
The most important aspect of dry eyes and Lasik is open communication between the patient and the doctor. Before getting Lasik surgery, ask your surgeon for advice about avoiding dry eyes and available treatment options.