Studies have shown that these nerves regenerate over a period of several months to sometimes as long as a year. This can be more sigfnicant if a patient had a dry eye problem to begin with so most LASIK surgeons will be diligent about identifying those patients with dry eye and treat them aggressively prior to the procedure in order to ensure an optimal outcome. Fortunately it is only a minority of patients who have a persistent, serious dry eye problem after LASIK.
Many cases of dry eye are actually due to an instability of the tear film due to a deficiency of oil due to meibomian gland dysfunction. This is often overlooked by eye doctors who don't specifically look for it. So in addition to using artificial tears - and I would recommend using preservative-free artificial tears for the first several weeks after surgery - you also want to promote adequate oil production from the eyelids.
Some things to try:
- preservative-free artificial tears
- moist heat on the lids (but avoid pressure on or rubbing of the eyelids for the first month)
- take fish oil, flaxseed oil, or black currant seed oil (the latter can be found in a supplement called HydroEye)
- cut wheat out of the diet =3D Paleo Diet. Wheat has been linked to inflammation and autoimmune disorders including dry eye due to decreased tear production
- limit omega-6 oils - these are found in fried foods and most processed foods and listed as hydrogenated oils and fats and are also linked to inflammation
- make sure you don't have a ceiling fan or AC duct blowing on you at night. Even a fan in the corner of your room can be blowing enough to dry your eyes out
- if fans or AC are not an issue, consider using a lubricating gel or ointment at night to keep the eyes from drying out while you sleep
- if you are still struggling, you might benefit from Restasis, a prescription eye drop that decreases inflammation and can increase tear production. Be aware that this medicine can take a few months to reach a therapeutic level.
Bottom line: dry eye is common early after LASIK and usually improves with time. But you should discuss your symptoms and concerns with your surgeon. Untreated dry eye is associated with regression which can lead to undercorrection of your refractive error. So your doctor will want to know so they can address it properly.
Amjad Khokhar, M.D., F.A.A.O.
It is very common for the eyes to be dry after LASIK surgery. Some of the small nerves in the cornea are disrupted when the LASIK flap is made. This decreases the amount of tears your eyes make. It often takes several months or even a year for the nerves to heal completely. Artificial tears are the best treatment. There are many good brands available over-the-counter. Systane and Refresh are examples. If you need to use the drops more than 4 times a day to keep the eyes comfortable, you
should get a Preservative-free version. If your symptoms persist despite using tears frequently, talk to your eye surgeon about other possible treatment options (such as punctal plugs or Restasis).
Luckily the dryness usually improves over time as your cornea heals.
Interim treatment with frequent use of artificial eye drops as lubricant and punctual plugs will help