Dry Eye After Cataract Surgery

You may experience dry eye following cataract surgery. Learn more about why this is, and what you can do about it.

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Why is Dry Eye Common After Cataract Surgery?

Studies show that more than half of the people who get cataract surgery experience symptoms of dry eye, often referred to as 'Dry Eye after Cataract Surgery'. In most cases, it's temporary, and the severity can vary.

A major cause of dry eye is disruptions in tear production or the tear film. This can occur as a result of the cataract procedure, due to the proximity of the surgical procedure to the corneal nerves and the risk of irritation which can lead to inflammation. These issues can be examined by your local eye doctor or optometrist before you go for your procedure. The type of cataract surgery can affect the degree of dryness experienced.

Cataract surgery can also exacerbate dry eye symptoms in people who previously had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. It's crucial to consult your eye care professional about the possibility of this occurring.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Symptoms of Dry Eye

In addition to the obvious feeling of dryness, dry eye symptoms can include:

  • A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness in the eyes
  • A sensation of having something in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Difficulty with nighttime driving
  • Watery eyes, which is the body's response to the irritation of dry eyes
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue
  • Feeling like your eyelids are heavy
  • Decreased tolerance of reading, working on the computer, or any activity that requires sustained visual attention

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms following your cataract surgery, schedule an evaluation with your eye care professional.

Preoperative Assessment

Preoperative Assessment

Before your cataract surgery, ideally at a reputable eye care clinic, you should get a thorough evaluation of your ocular surface to prepare for any possible occurrence of dry eye after cataract surgery.

Also, if you already suffer from dry eye syndrome prior to the procedure, make sure your optometrist is aware. You may receive recommendations of things you can do both before and after the surgery to decrease the chances of developing dry eye symptoms afterward, or to mitigate the severity. These may be at-home or in-office treatment recommendations that your optometrist can provide over the phone.

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Postoperative Assessment and Treatment

Postoperative Assessment and Treatment

Following your cataract surgery, our eye care professional will perform tests to make sure the operation was successful, and to determine whether you are at risk of dry eye symptoms or dry eye after cataract surgery. Similar to preoperative assessments, these tests may involve the use of specialized dyes to detect any issues on the cornea or the ocular surface. Additionally, you might be asked to fill out surveys to help our eye doctor gauge any symptoms you may be experiencing. Examples of such surveys include the Standard Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness (SPEED) or the Ocular Surface Disease Index (ODSI) surveys.

Topical artificial tears are commonly suggested as a treatment option for people with dry eye after cataract surgery. There are a variety of tear formulations available, for patients with particularly sensitive eyes or other issues that may make standard artificial tears ineffective or unsafe.

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Common Questions

Dry eyes can indeed pose a problem for cataract surgery. Dry eye syndrome can exacerbate the discomfort experienced during the post-operative phase. Furthermore, severe dry eye may affect the accuracy of the preoperative eye measurements, which are essential for the selection of the intraocular lens power. This can potentially lead to suboptimal visual outcomes following the surgery. Therefore, it's crucial to manage dry eye symptoms effectively before undergoing cataract surgery.
Whether you need dry eye drops after cataract surgery can depend on individual circumstances. Many patients do benefit from the use of these drops, as cataract surgery can disrupt the tear film, leading to symptoms of dry eye. However, not all patients will experience this side effect. It's always best to consult with your eye care provider after your surgery. They will be able to assess your condition and provide appropriate treatment advice.
Yes, dry eye ointment can be used after cataract surgery, particularly before bedtime to alleviate overnight dryness. However, it's important to note that any ointment or eye drop should be used under the guidance of an eye care professional, as improper use could lead to eye irritation or other issues.
Dry eye symptoms can vary significantly among individuals after cataract surgery. While some may only experience mild and temporary symptoms, others could face persistent dryness for several weeks or even months post-operation. Generally, most patients find their symptoms improve within 1-3 months. However, in some cases, ongoing management may be required if the dry eye syndrome persists. Regular follow-ups with our eye doctor are crucial to monitor and manage your symptoms effectively.
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Dry eyes are not uncommon following cataract surgery. However, in most cases it is relatively mild and easy to treat. It is advised to speak with your doctor before your procedure about any risk, especially if you previously suffered from dry eye. If you are considering cataract surgery, and have additional questions or wish to schedule a consultation, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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