What causes dry eyes after laser vision correction?
Nerves play an important part in the Laser Eye Surgery recovery process. I’m not talking about the jitters, patients are usually very calm by this time — I’m on about a different set of nerves: those on the surface of your eye.
The nerves on the surface of the eye are momentarily interrupted because of the laser process. These nerves, however, have the incredible power to regenerate over a period of three to six months, further regenerating over the subsequent three to six years.
In addition to this, the tear film becomes slightly irregular due to changes in the glands surrounding the eyelids (whose function is to produce an oil layer to coat the tears).
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Due to these two mechanisms being temporarily affected — with the nerves needing to regenerate and the glands to come back to full functioning — it is possible that the patient may experience dry eye after Laser Eye Surgery.
Expert Laser Eye Surgeon Mr Glenn Carp explains post-surgery dry eye
In the short video above, Mr Glenn Carp designs why you may experience dry eye after Laser Eye Surgery.
Finding out if you will experience dry eye after Laser Eye Surgery
The corneal nerves supply information to the lacrimal gland to supply a continual amount of lubrication to the eye. Laser Eye Surgery techniques like LASIK and PRK disrupt the corneal nerves so they can no longer supply the appropriate information, therefore decrease the normal amount of lubrication to the eye, and leading to dry eyes.
Over the course of the weeks, months, and years after Laser Eye Surgery, the nerves heal, and the lubrication level of the eye returns to normal. However, a small number of patients with pre-existing dry eyes are at risk of prolonged dry eye and more significant symptoms. In the rarer of cases, some patients even years after surgery have dryer eyes than they did before having Laser Eye Surgery.
In general, the use of artificial tears is important in the recovery of the eye’s nerves following Laser Eye Surgery. Careful discussion with your Patient Care Coordinator both before and after surgery is important in determining the amount of lubrication required.
In severe dry eye cases, patients can use a punctal plug. A punctal plug is a plastic plug that prevents the outflow of tears from your eye to the nose. This device can raise the amount of lubrication in the eye, just like plugging the drain of a sink. A surgeon can place and remove the plastic plugs months later if required.
Find out if you are likely to experience dry eye following Laser Eye Surgery by leaving us a comment below or contacting our team of friendly experts on on 020 7224 1005.