Essentially all patients have dry eyes following Lasik surgery for a period of 3 to 6 months. However, only those with dry eyes before surgery will have symptoms. Fortunately, the majority of those with symptoms have resolved their dry eye issue within 2-4 weeks after surgery.
There are several possible reasons why patients have dry eyes after Lasik surgery. The most likely reason, however, is the temporary damage to the corneal nerves that drive tear production. As those nerves heal, the tear production is reduced, and the patient has dry eye symptoms. It can take up to 6 months for the cornea to completely heal after Lasik surgery.
Surgeons can take several steps to reduce the incidence of dry eye after Lasik. All patients who are being evaluated for the Lasik procedure should have a thorough dry eye evaluation pre-operatively. If it is determined that the patient suffers from dry eye, the patient should receive treatment prior to surgery. Treatment may include artificial tears, a lubricating ointment at night, Restasis, and punctual occlusion. Studies have shown that patients with moderate to severe dry eye who underwent Lasik after being pretreated with Restasis 0.05% twice a day for 1 to 3 months achieved a better visual outcome than those that were not. An analysis of patients that were treated with Restasis post-operatively also recovered better visual acuity than those that were not. Specifically, the studies showed that Restasis users were more likely to have 20/15 or 20/20 vision whereas nonusers were significantly more likely to have a visual outcome worse than 20/20.
Therefore, patient’s interested in Lasik surgery must be prepared to experience some form of dry eye after surgery. They must make sure that their Surgeon completes a full dry eye evaluation prior to surgery and must follow all pre and post-operative instructions diligently for the