Post-surgical dry eye

How cataract and laser eye surgery can impact dry eye.

Dry eye signs and symptoms are common after eye surgeries like cataract removal and laser eye surgery (also known as LASIK surgery), occurring in a vast majority of people who have the surgery.

Studies have shown that after surgery, 95% of people who underwent LASIK surgery and upwards of 87% of people who underwent cataract surgery experience dry eye symptoms. Although usually temporary, dry eye as a result of LASIK surgery usually peaks in the first few months after surgery, and then symptoms begin to improve in the vast majority of patients at 6–12 months after surgery.

Allon Barsam, Director and Founding Partner Ophthalmic Consultants of London

"Dry eye following eye surgery is very common, particularly after cataract or laser vision surgery, but it can also occur after eyelid, glaucoma, retina, cornea or squint surgeries. For the first few weeks following surgery, most people will experience signs or symptoms of dry eye, and many will continue to experience these symptoms for months afterwards if left untreated. During surgery the surface of the eye is exposed to both the environment and liquid that is used to sterilise the eye, these factors are thought to contribute to dry eye symptoms following surgery. Additionally, after surgery, inflammation can lead to dry eye, as can preservatives used in some eye drops, which can be harmful to the surface of the eye. In many cases, dry eye from eye surgeries can be prevented or treated with a thorough pre-operative assessment and pre-treatment prior to undergoing surgery, as well as a comprehensive dry eye treatment regime post-operatively."

Managing symptoms

Dry eyes can substantially affect a person’s perception of their surgery and their level of satisfaction. Awareness and understanding of post-surgical dry eye is important, as well as finding an effective solution for managing symptoms.

Managing symptoms of dry eye has been shown to assist with post-surgical recovery.

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  1. Shtein RM. Expert Rev Ophthalmol 2011;6(5):575-582
  2. Dalton M. Ophthalmology Times. Managing dry eye key to patient satisfaction after cataract, refractive surgeries. Available at: Last accessed October 2020
Document number: PP-CATION-UK-0065. Date of preparation: November 2020