Dry Eyes and LASIK
If you have dry eyes, you know how irritating they can be. The burning, itching, and general discomfort can make it tough to get through the day. Currently between 16 million and 49 million Americans have dry eyes – that’s 5-15% of our population! Many people simply suffer through it, thinking that dry eyes are just a minor annoyance. But the truth is, if you don’t treat your dry eyes, they can lead to some serious problems.
Some patients may have what is called dry eye syndrome but it doesn’t immediately disqualify them as a LASIK surgery candidate. But it does mean that you need to have your dry eye symptoms under control and successfully treated before having LASIK surgery. Keep reading to learn more about dry eye syndrome and LASIK surgery.
What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic eye condition that can be temporary if treated. Dry eye symptoms include a burning sensation or feeling or grit in your eye. Other dry eye symptoms you could have are light sensitivity, eye fatigue or redness.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Dry eye is usually not caused by low tear production, but by poor quality of tears. Tears are composed of three parts, water, oil and mucus. When there is not enough of one of these components, it can affect how your eyes are lubricated. Sometimes it happens when the tears evaporate too quickly. Having the proper amount of moisture and tear film is needed for your eyes’ health. Some other things that cause dry eye or can agitate dry eyes are:
- Wearing contact lenses
- Hormonal changes during menopause
- Certain prescription medications
- Allergies and their medications
- Air conditioning or heating systems at work or home
- Living in a big city with the irritating effects of pollution or dry air
- Working at a computer or the use of a smart phone for long periods of time
- Certain autoimmune diseases
Contact Lenses and Dry Eyes
Many of our patients are looking to get LASIK because they are tired of the dry eye they get from daily contact lens use. With today’s advanced technology, we are able to determine the best treatments for your unique eyes.
Dry Eye LASIK Evaluation
At your LASIK consultation, your eyes will be thoroughly examined, this includes testing your tear production. Your doctor may try some tear stimulating drugs and advise some lifestyle changes like limiting screen use and using eye protection when appropriate to see if the condition improves.
What happens If I Don’t Treat My Dry Eye?
Dry eye can cause a lot of discomfort, but did you know that they can also lead to some more serious problems? If you don’t treat your dry eye, here’s what could happen:
You could develop an infection. Without enough moisture, your tears can’t wash away bacteria. This puts you at risk for developing an infection in your eye. Eye infections can be extremely painful and may even require antibiotics to clear up. In rare cases, an eye infection can even lead to vision loss.
You could damage your cornea. Your cornea is the clear layer at the front of your eye that helps you see clearly. If it becomes too dry, it can become irritated and inflamed. This condition is called keratitis, and it can be very painful. In severe cases, it may require surgery to correct.
Your vision could be affected. Dry eye can cause blurred or fluctuating vision. They can also make your eyes more sensitive to light. If you already have vision problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, dry eye can make them worse.
You could experience temporary vision loss. In severe cases of dry eye syndrome, your tear ducts may become completely blocked. This can cause a condition called punctate keratitis, which is when tiny areas of your cornea become damaged. This damage may only be temporary, but it can cause vision loss that lasts for several hours or even days.
Could Dry Eyes Stand in the Way of Getting LASIK?
If you are struggling with dry eye and are not a candidate for LASIK, you may be a candidate for one of the many alternatives to LASIK like the lens based procedure called EVO ICL.
If you are struggling with dry eye or want to see if you are a candidate for LASIK, schedule a LASIK consultation today at Parkhurst NuVision.
Be sure to talk to one of our doctors about not only the benefits of LASIK, but also any risks of LASIK that may pertain to your individual needs and circumstances.