Why does LASIK cause dry eyes and is it preventable?

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) has made leaps and bounds in terms of advancement for the past 30 years, making it one of the go-to surgery for correcting refractive errors like short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia. LASIK surgery can correct up to -12.00 of short-sightedness and -5.00 of astigmatism, allowing many people to enjoy spectacle and/or contact lens freedom post-surgery. 

A LASIK surgery for 2 eyes typically lasts between 10 and 15 minutes. Prior to surgery, a speculum will be used to hold your eyes open, and numbing eye drops will be used to minimise discomfort and pain during surgery. Thereafter, a corneal flap will be created using a femtosecond laser. This flap will be folded backward and an excimer laser will go over the cornea to start reshaping it and thereby correcting the refractive errors. The flap will thereafter return to the original position completing the surgery. 

Lang Eye Centre - Eye Surgeon in Singapore conducting LASIK Surgery on a patient

Immediately after LASIK surgery, there will be grittiness or foreign-body sensation in the eyes, tearing, and sensitivity to light. Some may also experience temporary side effects like seeing halos and starbursts, especially at night, and dry eyes which will usually subside after 3 months.

What causes dry eyes after LASIK?

Post-LASIK, the sensation on the surface of the eye can be temporarily reduced. Hence, the eye may not sense the need to moisturise during the recovery period and so it produces fewer tears which can lead to dry eyes. Experiencing some degree of temporary dry eye post-LASIK cannot be prevented but it can be managed easily in the following ways:

  • Allow your eyes to have ample rest 
  • Minimise screen time as you tend to blink less when using electronic devices
  • Use preservative-free lubricating eye drops to moisturise generously 
  • Supplement with a lubricating gel to be used at night 
Lang Eye Centre - Person with Dry Eyes

The vast majority of people will be able to alleviate dry eye if they follow the above-suggested ways. In the rare event of persistent dry eye, do visit your LASIK surgeon regarding your symptoms. Thicker formula of lubricants may be prescribed or a silicone punctal plug may be inserted into the tear ducts to decrease the outflow of tears which allows the eyes to remain moist for a longer period of time.

If you are keen to consider LASIK surgery to be spectacles-free, please contact us at manager@langeye.sg or +65 6684 1000 to schedule a LASIK evaluation to determine suitability. 

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