Eye-Whitening: do your homework

American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery has rescinded a clinical alert about complications that may result from eye whitening treatments

Eye-whitening procedures involve removing the outer layers that cover the white sclera and using medications which slow healing in order to result in a whiter looking eye.  In some early reports using specific surgical eye whitening techniques there were reports of complications.  For any elective surgery involving the eyes or other areas of the body there will always be some risk even if the procedure is done perfectly.  This is due to difference in responses to surgery and differences in healing for each individual.  Some health conditions such as smoking, autoimmune diseases, or diabetes can also affect healing.  When considering any type of elective surgery you need to find out the specific techniques that are being used, expected rates of complications, and any factors in your specific case that might raise your risk for a specific treatment.  In general most of the elective surgeries that are now considered routine (such as laser vision correction) will carry a low risk of significant complications.  When looking for information about a specific treatment it can be helpful to look at respected websites such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology , or the National Eye Institute.   The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health has a data base with peer reviewed articles that can be searched for more in depth information called PubMed.

Red eyes are common and may be caused by anything that irritates the eyes, most commonly dry eye and allergies.  If the vision is not affected then most people can safely try over the counter artificial tears up to several times per day and warm compresses twice per day.  For many people regular use of lubrication drops can help to minimize red eye.  Over the counter allergy medications can also be used safely as directed for short periods of time. Red eye formulas are available over the counter but are not recommended for continuous every day use.

Whether you don’t need glasses at all, wear contacts or glasses, or have had laser vision correction such as PRK or LASIK, an occasional red eye that responds to artificial tears is most likely not serious.  Signs that you should see your eye doctor include a red eye with vision changes, significant pain or discomfort, or a large amount of discharge.  If you have any of these symptoms or a persistently red eye it is a good idea to consult your eye doctor.

If you have questions about laser vision correction or wish to book a complimentary evaluation with Dr. Anderson Penno, contact Western Laser Eye Associates.

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