Posted by: Bryan B. | August 20, 2011

How do LASIK & other eye surgeries effect dry eye?

The eye is a very delicate organ. If a small piece of dirt can cause irritation, just imagine what surgery can do. Any kind of surgery which entails cutting the eye or the eyelid can lead to dry eye syndrome. Three of the more prevalent surgeries that cause dry eye are LASIK, blepharoplasty, and cataract surgery.

After LASIK surgery, it is not uncommon for people to have dry eye.  The procedure involves cutting through a layer of tissue to create a flap which provides access for the surgeon to reshape the eye using a laser.  The cutting is what can lead to dry eye, because in doing so, a very important nerve that triggers tear creation from the lacrimal gland is severed. If the eye cannot communicate with the lacrimal gland, it will be not produce tears at the same rate that it did before surgery.

If you have moderate or severe dry eye prior to LASIK, you may end up with blurry vision post-surgery because of unstable tear production. Be sure to bring up any concerns you may have about dry eye before you have LASIK. For more information about dry eye syndrome and LASIK please visit this site.

Another surgery, albeit a cosmetic surgery, that can cause dry eye syndrome is blepharoplasty or an eye lift. This surgery entails removing skin, muscle or fat from around the eye so that the eyelids are smaller.  This is done sometimes to help people see or to alter one’s appearance. People with dry eye are often denied eye lifts because, after the surgery, the eyelids sometimes do not close completely, which makes it harder for the eye to stay moist.

Cataract surgery is typically rougher for people who have dry eye syndrome.  Cataract surgery should be put off until it is completely necessary. It is not uncommon for someone to develop dry eye due to post-op medications. The Physician’s Desk Reference states that, in “cataract surgery studies, keratitis [dry eye] was reported in up to 28% of patients receiving Voltaren Ophthalmic.”

Clearly there are many surgical procedures that can exacerbate dry eye, however, are there any that help the eye produce or tears and limit the dryness of the eye? Yes, typically doctors will try Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory medication or punctal plugs to help alleviate the dry eye symptoms. If neither of these works, surgery can be done to block or make the drainage canals of the eye smaller.


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