If you are thinking about having PRK or LASIK laser refractive surgery you should be familiar with the common conditions that can cause problems after surgery. Most people who have PRK or LASIK are very satisfied. For the small percentage of people who have problems following laser vision correction, dry eye is one of the most common complaint.
Dry eye can be a complicated problem, called “ocular surface disease” by eye care professionals. Dry eye is not as simple as not enough tears. A normal tear film is like oil and vinegar salad dressing – the oil, mucous, and water components need to be in the proper proportions and also mixed properly to form an emulsion. An emulsion is what happens when you shake your oil and vinegar salad dressing.
Blepharitis is a condition that causes plugging of the oil glands that have openings just inside the upper and lower eye lashes. Blepharitis can also cause redness and inflammation along the eye lashes and mattering of the lashes. Without the proper oils the tear film does not wet the eye surface as well. The mattering of the lids can also lead to a poor quality tear film which causes dry eye symptoms.
Blepharitis treatment is like treating dry skin or any other chronic condition. Treatment of blepharitis means a change in habits – the treatments need to be done as part of your daily routine on an ongoing basis. Daily warm compress with mild pressure on closed lids with a warm wet cloth for 3 to 5 minutes twice per day is the most important treatment. The warmth will encourage the oils to flow, the mild pressure can soften and lift off matter, and the moist cloth will help lift off debris. Other treatment are gently washing the lids with dilute baby shampoo 1:10 or with a lid care pad available at pharmacies.
The link between blepharitis and PRK or LASIK is that after surgery, without glasses or contact lenses, the eye is more exposed to wind and evaporation. If you wear glasses you know that there moist air trapped between your eye and your glasses because when you go out in the cold the glasses fog up. Even contact lenses can provide a barrier from evaporation. Once the surface is exposed on a daily basis, people with blepharitis might find their eyes feel more dry than before PRK or LASIK.
Before you have laser vision correction your eye care provider will assess pre-existing conditions like blepharitis and give you advice about treatment of these conditions.
If you have questions about laser vision correction or wish to book a complimentary evaluation, contact Western Laser Eye Associates.