Side Effect: Dry eyes

Many think Laser Eye Surgery will bring a tear to the eye, but in actual fact it can often do the opposite.

Laser Eye Surgery, like most forms of treatments, comes with a risk of experiencing side effects. Thankfully, these are relatively minor and tend to last no longer than a few weeks or months.

With only a handful of side effects to contend with, surgeons are adept at managing them and reducing their chances of occurring. Many patients have their treatment and are back on their way with little notice of anything other than their new clarity of vision.

However, one of those side effects commonly seen is dry eye. In fact, the way in which the procedure works means you’ll probably experience it a little—that’s why we provide all out patients with lubricating eye drops. But there’s a little more to it. Genetic predispositions, the environment, and other factors can all play their part, for reasons that become clearer when we take a closer look at what’s going on inside the eye.

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What’s going on inside your eye?

Up there with the most complex organs in the human body is the eye. They’re the body’s natural cameras that capture light, convert it to waves of electrochemical signals, and conjure up the images we see.

With such complexity the eye demands an ultra precise arrangement of components in order to function correctly. Like a pearl sitting in a clam shell, such delicate design needs appropriate protection. For the eye, we have what is called the tear film.

The tear film consists of four layers: eyelid glands, the mucin layer, the water layer, and the lipid layer. Much like in the body of the eye, its arrangement and composition needs to be exact in order to avoid any issues.

When things get out of balance in the tear film, that’s when you start to experience dry eyes. These imbalances can occur for a whole host of reasons, including disease, menopause, medications, the environment, and, as it happens, Laser Eye Surgery.

The Laser Eye Surgery procedure involves entering the outer surface of the eye, or epithelium, and treating the exposed area beneath. This action interrupts the nerves on the epithelium and results in a temporary reduction of corneal nerve sensitivity—just like when you stub your toe and it later goes numb (although without the pain and squealing).

The eye being as delicate as it is, quickly triggers its natural healing process. This recovery period, when the epithelium is suffering from a lack of sensitivity and the glands surrounding the eyelids are adjusting, affects the gland’s ability to produce tears and also the lipid layer’s ability to produce their oil coating.

Gradually over a period of around three to six months the nerves on the surface of the eye begin to regenerate, returning it back to its pre-surgery state—albeit without the glasses, contact lenses, and other restrictions that accompanied your vision.

Safeguarding against dry eye

Your individual genes, diet, and lifestyle, can all affect your eyes in different ways. But the majority of dry eye cases are caused by environmental factors.

Many of these factors characterise our modern day existence and are difficult to avoid. They include, among others, extreme weather conditions, contact lenses, smoking, and prolonged computer use. Our ever increasing use of screens in particular is causing dry eye to become more and more prevalent.

Anyone, any age, is at risk of developing dry eye. That’s why it’s imperative your Laser Eye surgeon assesses your risk of dry eye before anything else.

Our initial assessment is one of the most thorough in the business. If you would like to book a consultation with us, or find out more about LASIK, leave us a comment or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.

Side Effect: Dry eyes