A common problem is exacerbated this time of the year – dry eyes. For those considering having LASIK vision correction surgery, this condition can cause a lot of trouble during the healing process. There are solutions, however, to make improve the dry eye state making it possible to have LASIK surgery.
Having a sufficient tear film is a requirement for a successful LASIK outcome. The components of tears help nourish and protect the eye against infection. Tear testing can be performed a variety of ways. During a LASIK consultation it is important for the medical team to thoroughly evaluate each patient’s eyes for dry eyes. If dry eyes are discovered, it is important to treat it prior to undergoing LASIK.
What Are Tears and Why Are They Important?
A very important part of the eye is the proper and efficient production of tears. Tears provide constant lubrication to the eye to maintain adequate vision and comfort. Tears are made up of three layers, a lipid (oil) layer, an aqueous (water) layer and a mucous layer. Each layer plays an important role in the overall function and comfort of the eye. Tears cleanse and nourish the eye and a lack or insufficient tear film can cause a host of problems including pain, a gritty or foreign body sensation, light sensitivity and blurred vision. Dry eyes are common, in fact, approximately 33 million Americans experience dry eye related conditions.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Dry Eyes can be caused by having an imbalance in the makeup of the tear or the shape of the eyelids. It can also be caused by dry atmospheric conditions, heat, air conditioning, menopause and the aging process. In addition, it can also be a side effect of certain medications and diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.
How Are Dry Eyes Treated?
The use of artificial tears and ointments are often used to provide added lubrication to the eye. Punctal plugs are often inserted temporarily to block the drainage of tears that are produced by the eye and to help eliminate dry eye conditions. The prescription of Restasis® is another way many surgeons treat dry eyes. Restasis® is a pharmaceutical that helps improve the quality and quantity of tears produced. Fish Oil and Vitamin E are also often recommended to improve the lipid layer of the tear which nourishes the eye.
Dry Eyes & LASIK
Eyes are typically dry for a short period post-LASIK due to the corneal flap creation. However, having a pre-existing dry eye condition can often exacerbate this. All LASIK patients are advised to use artificial tears often following their procedure to allow the eye to heal properly. If dry eyes are discovered prior to having LASIK, it is important to continue any prescribed treatment until healing is complete and your surgeon advises you to stop.
If you are considering LASIK and suffer from dry eyes, talk with your eye care doctor to discuss available treatment options prior to having LASIK. Once discovered, dry eyes can typically be managed successfully and LASIK performed with a positive outcome.