Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic or steroid eye drops to be used after LASIK. They may also recommend lubricating eye drops to ease eye dryness and discomfort.
Depending on the type of drop, you may need to use eye drops for a few days to a couple weeks after the surgery.
What Types of Eye Drops Are Used After LASIK?
These eye drops are usually recommended after LASIK:
- Antibiotic eye drops: These work to prevent infection following LASIK. They are usually prescribed for 7 to 10 days following the surgery.
- Steroid eye drops: These drops reduce inflammation after LASIK, aiding the body’s healing process. Patients generally apply these for about a week or two after LASIK.
- Lubricating eye drops: These moisturize the eyes, helping to relieve symptoms of dry eye after LASIK. For artificial tears, a preservative-free formula is best. If lubricating eye drops are prescribed, Xiidra and Restasis are usually the choices.
Dry Eye After LASIK: How Common Is it?
The percentage of LASIK patients who develop dry eye syndrome is reported to be as low as about 4 percent to as high as 60 to 70 percent. Most often, the symptoms include eye dryness, irritation, and redness.
Why Does Dry Eye Occur After LASIK?
Research shows that dry after LASIK surgery is linked to having symptoms of dry eye before the surgery. Preexisting symptoms are considered the main risk factor for dry eye after LASIK.
Eye shape may also factor into the equation, as people with lower or higher refractive errors may have a higher risk of dry eye.
How Long Does Dry Eye Last After LASIK?
Experts at the American Academy of Ophthalmology note that dryness following LASIK usually can last for three to six months. For some people, the symptoms persist for months and even years, but this is rare.
How to Treat Dry Eye After LASIK
Xiidra eye drops treat dry eye symptoms by blocking specific proteins on cell surfaces. The proteins are responsible for both the quantity and quality of tears.
If your body isn’t producing enough tears, your eyes will feel dry. If the consistency of the tears is not balanced, your eyes will also feel dry. Xiidra is often prescribed to treat these issues.
Restasis treats dry eyes and offers increased lubrication and reduction of inflammation.
Your doctor will decide which eye drops will work best to combat any symptoms of dry eye after LASIK.
How Long Will You Use Eye Drops After LASIK?
The length of time you’ll use eye drops after LASIK depends on your condition and the drops you’re using.
If you are using prescribed antibiotic or steroid eye drops, use them according to your doctor’s instructions. Don’t stop using them early as you want to promote the best healing environment for your eyes following LASIK.
If you are using over-the-counter eye drops, follow the instructions on the box. If your doctor prescribed Xiidra or Restasis for dry eye symptoms, follow the prescription instructions.
Best Eye Drop Options After LASIK
The best eye drops to use after LASIK are the ones prescribed or recommended by your doctor.
If you are experiencing eye dryness, there are many over-the-counter varieties you can use. Here are some options:
Price: about $12
These are listed as the #1 bestseller on Amazon for eye drops. This dry eye drop is free of preservatives and promises immediate and long-lasting relief.
Price: about $9
This eye drop offers fast soothing relief with lubrication. It was previously labeled as Tears Naturale Forte.
Price: About $11
This gel formula promises long-lasting relief for symptoms of dry eye. These thicker drops are recommended for nighttime use.
Price: about $17
This formula offers long-lasting dry eye relief.
Price: About $13
This is a thicker formula, promising temporary relief from burning and itching of dry eyes.
Price: about $13
This formulation is preservative-free and offers a soothing gel lubricant. It is advertised for overnight relief from dry eye symptoms.
Alternatives to Eye Drops After LASIK
If you have dry eye symptoms after LASIK but don’t want to use eye drops, you have some other options.
This is a dry eye treatment that helps tears to stay longer on the eye surface. These delicate devices are placed into the punctal, so tears do not drain as quickly from the eyes. It is often compared to putting a drain in a sink to slow or stop water from leaving the area.
This is considered a painless procedure and only takes a few minutes in the doctor’s office.
This home remedy is an easy way to provide relief from irritation especially if dry eye is exacerbated by hardened or clogged meibum. Generally, a warm compress applied to closed eyelids provides effective relief if kept on for 10 minutes or more.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Some doctors recommend increasing omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, as these can reduce the symptoms of dry eye.
Omega-3 is found in fish oil or flaxseed oil and can be taken as an oral supplement. To increase omega-3 in your diet, some of the best sources are sardines, salmon, herring, cod, and flax seeds.
Eye Drops After LASIK FAQs
What eye drops do they give you after LASIK?
Your doctor may give you a prescription for antibiotic eye drops and steroid eye drops for use after LASIK. These drops help to reduce the risk of infection and inflammation, promoting overall healing.
You may be prescribed Xiidra or Restasis to treat symptoms of dry eye. You can also use over-the-counter lubricating eye drops..
Do you need eye drops after laser surgery?
You’ll need to use any prescribed antibiotic or steroid eye drops after laser eye surgery. You may also need lubricating eye drops if you experience eye dryness or irritation.
Improved Dry Eye Drugs for 2022 and Beyond. (November 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Incidence and Management of Symptomatic Dry Eye Related to LASIK for Myopia, With Topical Cyclosporine A. (March 2019). Clinical Ophthalmology.
Effects of Aging in Dry Eye. (Spring 2017). International Ophthalmology Clinics.
Risk Factors for Dry Eye After Refractive Surgery. (December 2019). Cornea: The Journal of Cornea and External Disease.
Current Questions in Dry Eye Therapy. (July 2019). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Punctal Plugs. (March 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Step-by-Step Management of Dry Eye Disease: Autologous Serum Eye Drops and Other Blood Products for the Treatment of Dry Eye Disease. (April 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Omega-3 Supplements for Dry Eye. (November 2016). Canadian Family Physician.
The Case for a More Holistic Approach to Dry Eye Disease: Is It Time to Move beyond Antibiotics? (June 2019). Antibiotics.
Last Updated September 7, 2022
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