Dry Eyes After LASIK

Dr. Russel Lazarus, November 12, 2021

Dry eye syndrome is the most common side effect of LASIK, affecting 9 out 10 people.

LASIK is the most frequently performed laser refractive eye surgery, with over 16 million people having undergone LASIK to eliminate the need for corrective eyewear once and for all.

While LASIK is considered both safe and effective for the correction of myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism, it still carries some risk of complications and adverse effects— one of the most common being dry eyes.

LASIK and dry eyes

Around 95 percent of post-LASIK patients report symptoms of dry eye for up to a few days or weeks post- surgery.

Fortunately, these side effects are typically short-lived, as many post-LASIK patients notice significant improvements in their symptoms as time progresses.

Approximately 60 percent of patients report continued dry eye symptoms one month post-LASIK, and by 6 to 12 months post-surgery, most patients have fully recovered. 

Chronic dry eye symptoms one year post-surgery and beyond are generally very uncommon.

Symptoms of dry eyes 

The most common dry eye symptoms following a LASIK procedure include:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Irritated eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Blurred vision

Why does LASIK cause dry eyes?

During a LASIK procedure, tiny incisions are made in the cornea to achieve the desired vision correction. However, these incisions can damage the corneal nerves, leading to reduced sensitivity and affecting the impulses that alert the brain of dryness.

This in turn, impacts the stimulation of tear production, resulting in dry eye symptoms.

SEE RELATED: What is Laser Refractive Surgery?

Contact an eye doctor near you to learn more about LASIK surgery.

Find an eye doctor near you

Risk factors for post-LASIK dry eyes

The following factors can increase your risk of developing dry eyes following a LASIK procedure:

  • Preexisting chronic dry eyes
  • High myopia
  • Older age
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Sjorgen’s syndrome
  • Medications, such as antihistamines, blood pressure regulators or antidepressants
  • Dry climate
  • Polluted or poor air quality

How to soothe LASIK dry eyes?

Following your LASIK procedure, your eye doctor will advise how you can soothe any dry eye symptoms you may experience.

The following home remedies can also help to improve dry eye symptoms:

1. Hydration

Staying hydrated is one of the most important tips to keeping your body and eyes healthy. Try to drink at least 2 liters of water per day.

2. Omega-3

Getting the recommended daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids can also aid in dry eye symptom relief. Omega-3s can be consumed through a healthy diet rich in nuts, seeds, fatty fish and oils, or by taking supplements.

Speak with your doctor to determine an appropriate daily dose.

3. Humidifier

Using a humidifier in your home or workplace can help to add moisture to the room and prevent dryness.

4. Artificial tears

Lubricating eye drops, gels and ointments offer immediate relief of dry eye symptoms, though they have to be used throughout the day as the relief is not usually long lasting.

Always consult with your eye doctor before using any eye drops following your LASIK procedure.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Laser Refractive Surgery 

Contact an eye doctor near you to learn more about LASIK surgery.

Even after having LASIK laser surgery, annual eye exams are vital for maintaining healthy eyes and clear vision. 

If signs of dry eye syndrome are detected, your eye doctor will discuss the many options available for restoring healthy and refreshed eyes.