What are dry eye symptoms?
Dry eyes are due to either low production of tears or a poor quality tear function. Dry eyes cause the eyes to feel gritty or irritated and look red. Dry eye can increase the risk of discomfort and post-operative problems, including flap wrinkles. Symptoms are worse in dry environments, like air-conditioned homes or offices, cars, or in windy conditions or desert environments.
Why do patients experience dry eye symptoms?
After the LASIK procedure, it is well documented that tear production may be reduced for a short period of time, possibly due to effects on the cells that help keep the eye moist. Another possible reason is that creating the flap in the cornea affects the number of nerves that tell you your eyes are dry. As a result, the eye is not stimulated as much to blink and can dry out.
Dry eye is common in laser vision correction patients, even those without prior history of dry eyes. The risk of dry eye is also greater for patients over the age of 40 because our tear production decreases with age.
What are the risks and effects of dry eye?
Good tear function is essential for clear vision, and dry eyes can blur vision. Patients with a moderate to severe dry eye condition have higher risk for the formation of small winkles in the flap that can be created if the eyelid moves over a dry cornea early in the healing period. Flap wrinkles usually require additional treatment to smooth them out. Overall, dry eye increases your risks of discomfort and improper healing.
Why not just use more artificial tears?
Preservative free artificial tears are the best artificial tears for your eyes, especially in the initial days after the procedure. However, frequent uses of artificial tears wash away our own natural tears and can be expensive – up to $10 a day. In the short run, artificial tears keep your eye moist for brief time periods, but no artificial tear is good as our own naturally produced tears. Our own natural tears contain important elements that artificial tears lack- like antibodies and other naturally produced elements that may reduce the risk of inflammation or infection. Punctal plugs help preserve your natural tears to lubricate your eyes, helping your eyes to heal after the procedure.
How can Punctal Plugs reduce dry eye?
Punctal plugs are very effective in helping dry eye. These tiny plugs act like a stopper in a sink, preventing the tears from draining away in the eye. We offer two types of temporary plugs made of collagen. Temporary plugs dissolve in three-four months ($100 per plug), but effective during the mail healing time to keep the eye moist. Silicone plugs are made of a soft plastic ($150 per plug), and are recommended for patients with persistent or extremely dry eyes.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you are interested in learning more about laser vision correction, we encourage you to contact top LASIK surgeon Dr. Joseph King. He and his highly trained medical staff are available to answer all of your questions and help you achieve your best vision. Call 425-525-1000 today.