Will Dry Eye Affect My LASIK Candidacy?

Woman suffering from dry eyes

There are a lot of factors that make you a good LASIK candidate. Most of them are pretty simple— you have to be at least 21, in good health and have the right prescription strength.

Other factors, like the thickness of your cornea and the size of your pupils, can be harder to check on your own. But if your corneas are too thin or you have larger pupils, LASIK isn’t safe for you. This is why LASIK candidates go through a screening process.

When it comes to dry eye, though, it isn’t as simple. You may be able to have a safe and effective LASIK procedure even if you have dry eyes or a history of dry eye.

But proper screening, treatment, and doctor approval is essential. Keep reading to find out if dry eyes could affect your LASIK candidacy!

Risk Factors

If you don’t have dry eyes or a history of dry eye, it may be hard to tell if you’re at risk of developing it after LASIK. Having any eye surgery that severs nerves in the cornea can cause dry eye in some individuals.

This is because your eye may not sense the need to stay lubricated as well. But there are certain factors that may make you especially prone to this, which include:

  • Being older
  • Having an autoimmune disease
  • Going through menopause
  • Being on certain medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, or blood pressure medication
  • Living in an arid environment

If you have any of these risk factors, it may not necessarily mean you’ll develop dry eye. But it will be something your doctor will want to know about when screening you for LASIK.


Part of the pre-LASIK process includes assessing your risk for dry eye. Besides asking you questions to determine your risk, your eye doctor will take certain tests. These tests will measure several things.

These include tear production, the quality of your tears, and how your tears spread over your eye and then break up. These tests will give your surgeon a good idea of how likely it is that you’ll develop dry eye after LASIK.

But if they find that you’re prone to dry eye, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have LASIK.

Preventative Treatment

If you are found to be high risk for dry eye, your doctor will recommend preventative treatment. This is a preventative treatment that you must have before undergoing LASIK.

This could be as simple as taking nutritional supplements, such as flaxseed or fish oil. It may include using artificial tears.

In more severe cases, such as if you already have dry eye, your doctor may want to put in punctal plugs. Punctal plugs block drainage passages in your eye.

They are especially helpful because they make tears stay on the surface of the eye longer. This helps make up for poor tear composition or production associated with dry eye.

Post-Surgical Treatment

If you get your dry eye under control, chances are, you can have LASIK. But even if you take preventative measures before LASIK, you need to take them after as well.

Continue taking nutritional supplements as recommended by your doctor. Stay hydrated and use artificial tears as instructed by your surgeon.

If you do experience dry eye symptoms, describe them to your doctor during follow-up appointments. Some mild symptoms may only bother you for a day or so after LASIK, so don’t panic if your eyes feel dried out.

It is normal to experience dry eyes as a side effect after LASIK. In many patients, this goes away after a few days. If you find that your symptoms aren’t improving, let your doctor know.

Ready to find out if you could be a good candidate for LASIK? Schedule a LASIK consultation at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA and start your clear vision journey!

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