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LASIK and dry eye

side shot of an eye

LASIK has done a lot for people around the world looking for a vision correction solution that lets them see without contacts or glasses.In clinical studies, 94% of patients saw 20/20 or better six months after surgery

That said, it is a medical procedure, and as with any medical procedures, there are potential side effects. Today we’re going to talk about the most common one: dry eye.

How common is “common”?

Reasonably common. Research shows almost half of patients who undergo LASIK experience some degree of dry eye.

But this fact alone doesn’t tell the whole picture. Post-LASIK eye dryness can vary greatly in severity and length. Dry eye syndrome is usually temporary and can be effectively managed with eye drops or other treatments. In some cases, eye dryness can be severe.

However, dry eyes aren’t just associated with LASIK. About 17% of contact lens wearers complain of eye dryness as well.  

If dry eye is a current problem for you or something you’re concerned about, bring it up with your LASIK doctor early. They may be able to address your dry eye issue before continuing the conversation about LASIK. Or they might tell you that you’re not a good candidate based on severe dry eye.

In any case, it merits a conversation, which starts during a consultation (and most LASIK surgeons offer free consultations). If you want to get started, you can find one near you here.

Is there anything I can do to help treat or prevent dry eye after LASIK?

While the first step is the above — addressing any pre-existing eye dryness prior to your LASIK procedure — there are some things you can try to help manage eye dryness in preparation for and after your surgery.

Many patients who experience eye dryness with LASIK are able to manage it with eye drops — you can find these in the drug store, or your eye surgeon might write you a prescription. Studies have also indicated that “good fats” like those found in fish and omega-3 fatty acid supplements also promote healthy tear production.

Should the dry eye persist, which is a condition less common than temporary dry eye, your doctor may recommend an eye treatment that keeps eye moisture from clearing away so quickly, keeping your eyes moist for longer periods.

If you have any questions about LASIK, you can ask us here, but the best resource for addressing your concerns is a LASIK surgeon. Most give consultations for free, and you can find one near you here.

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Indication: LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a laser surgery procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea to reduce or eliminate nearsightedness, farsightedness, or mixed visual irregularities due to an abnormal curve in the cornea (astigmatism). Only an eye care professional trained in laser vision correction can determine if you are a candidate for this procedure. The iFS® laser is a surgical laser that can be used to create flaps for use in LASIK surgery.

Contraindications: You should not have LASIK if you have collagen vascular (such as rheumatoid arthritis), autoimmune, or an immunodeficiency disease because they affect the body's ability to heal. You should not have this procedure if you are pregnant or nursing, show signs of corneal thinning, or take medications with eye-related side effects, such as Isotretinoin (Accutane®) for acne treatment or Amiodarone hydrochloride (Cordarone®) for normalizing heart rhythm.

Warnings: LASIK is not recommended if you have diabetes, a history of herpes simplex or herpes zoster keratitis, significant dry eye, or severe allergies.

Precautions: Your doctor will examine your eyes to determine if you are a candidate for this procedure. Talk to your doctor about any eye-related conditions, injuries, or surgeries you have had, as well as any changes to your vision in the past year. These may result in poor vision after LASIK. Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. After surgery, you may find it more difficult to see in conditions such as dim light, rain, snow, fog, or glare from bright lights at night. LASIK is for patients 21 years of age and over.

Side effects: Possible side effects include dryness, which may be severe; loss of vision or the possible need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery; and visual disturbances such as halos (hazy rings around lights), glare, starbursts, double images, and other visual irregularities that may be debilitating. Possible complications resulting from LASIK flap creation include swelling, inflammation or pain in your eye, infection, or flap-related complications. Mild to severe light sensitivity occurred in 1% of patients between 2 and 6 weeks after surgery. Some patients (0.03%) noticed a temporary spoke-like band of light in their peripheral vision.

Please consult with your eye care professional regarding the potential risks and benefits of this procedure. Results may vary for each individual patient.

The iLASIK® platform utilizes the STAR S4 IR® Excimer Laser System, WaveScan WaveFront® System, as well as the iFS® Advanced Femtosecond Laser during the LASIK procedure.

Caution: U.S. Federal Law restricts these devices to use by practitioners who have been trained in their calibration and operation, and who have experience in the surgical treatment and management of refractive errors.

For U.S. Consumers Only