What causes dry eyes after laser vision correction?
Nerves play an important role 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 pain-free laser process. Thankfully, though, these nerves possess the incredible power to regenerate over a period of three to six months, and will further regenerate over the subsequent three to six years.
On top of 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).
Due to these two mechanisms being temporarily affected — with the nerves needing to regenerate and the glands coming back to full functioning — patients often experience mild 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.
Will you experience dry eye after Laser Eye Surgery?
As every patient and body is different, it’s difficult to say for sure if and how much dry eye you will experience following Laser Eye Surgery. However, as we are experts who’ve been doing this for many years, we can take a pretty damn good guess.
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To explain what happens in the eye a little further, the corneal nerves supply information to the lacrimal gland to ensure they supply a continual amount of lubrication. Laser Eye Surgery techniques like LASIK and PRK disrupt the corneal nerves so they can no longer supply the proper information, and so there can be a decrease in the normal amount of lubrication to the eye, 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 right amount of lubrication required.
In cases of severe dry eye, 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.