Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome is one of the most common complications reported after LASIK eye surgery. Because the corneal nerves are severed when the flap is created, feedback from these nerves to the lacrimal gland is no longer possible. In most patients, some nerve regrowth occurs, and dry eye diminishes over time. In some patients, however, nerve regrowth is aberrant, or does not occur, and severe dry eye becomes a terrible fact of daily life.

Palliative treatments include eye drops, ointments, nutritional aids, humidifiers, various drugs, punctal occlusion, and even punctal cauterization, but true relief is impossible for many patients. Fortunately for most so-called "LASIK successes," tear fill in the hills and valleys of the post-LASIK cornea, masking corneal irregularities that would otherwise contribute to visual aberrations. In the dry eye patient, this does not occur. Accordingly, dry eye exacerbates the aberrations associated with an irregular cornea. The simulation below is based on the author's own experience with Dry Eye following LASIK, and illustrates vision upon awakening in the morning. In general, simulations of post-LASIK dry eye should be diverse, since there are huge variations in the corneal irregularities of LASIK victims. Normal vision is depicted in in the top half of the picture; morning dry eye is depicted in the bottom half.