Developed to correct vision by changing the shape of cornea, LASIK, LASEK, and PRK are procedures that involve cutting through the nerves. These nerves are part of the blink feedback loop. Sometimes, the nerves do not grow back immediately, leading to transient, or temporary Dry Eye that can last months, or even years. In some cases the nerves never grow back properly, leading to chronic Dry Eye. Therefore, anyone with even a mild case of aqueous deficiency or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) should probably avoid these procedures, unless they are fully prepared to accept the risk of developing severe and chronic Dry Eye.

Loss of corneal sensation occurs for other reasons as a result of these procedures. For example, prolonged use of topical antibiotics and steroids suppresses limbal stem cells. This retards proper epithelialization of the cornea after LASIK, LASEK or PRK surgery and leads to loss of corneal sensation. Loss of corneal sensation interrupts the blink feedback loop.

Other Risks of LASIK, LASEK, PRK

When the cornea is cut and the corneal flap is created, goblet cells in the eyes can be damaged, leading to Dry Eye.

After the procedure nerve endings can become inflamed, causing or worsening Dry Eye symptoms.

The procedures change the shape of the cornea, affecting the fit of the eye against the eye lid. The distribution of tears across the surface of the eye during blinking can be altered, leaving dry spots.

Other eye conditions can cause complications after LASIK, LASEK or PRK. Dry eye complications after these surgeries can be permanent.


LASIK and Dry Eyes: What’s the Connection?
David Railton, Reviewed by Judith Marcin, MD
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December 19, 2016

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