Can Worsen Dry Eyes
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with dry eyes can get better
vision with laser eye surgery--but at the risk of making their
dry eyes worse, according to researchers.
LASIK eye surgery can often correct the common vision problems
of near- or far-sightedness, but there are side effects--one of
them being eye dryness.
Now a new study shows that LASIK patients who have dry eyes
going into surgery, while benefiting from it, may also have more-severe
eye dryness after the procedure than other patients.
Dr. Ikuko Toda, of the Minamiaoyama Eye Clinic in Tokyo, Japan,
and colleagues report the findings in the August issue of the
Archives of Ophthalmology.
During LASIK (for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), a
doctor attempts to clear blurry vision by removing a thin layer
of tissue from the cornea in order to reshape it.
While the procedure is generally safe and often successful,
it is not for everyone. And recent guidelines from the American
Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery call patients with
dry eyes "less-than-ideal" candidates for LASIK because of the
risk of worsening the problem.
Still, Toda's team notes in the new report, patients with dry
eyes often want to try LASIK because they cannot comfortably wear
contact lenses. To see how well such patients fare after LASIK,
the researchers followed 290 patients who underwent the procedure,
a majority of whom had "definite" or "probable" dry eye before
They found that in the year after LASIK, dry-eye patients saw
as much vision improvement as the other patients did. However,
their dry-eye symptoms were more severe throughout the year after
surgery, according to the report.
Patients who had not had dry eyes before surgery did complain
of dryness in the month afterward, but the problem was only temporary,
Toda's team found.
"These data," they write, "may indicate that preoperative dry
eye is a risk factor for severe postoperative dry eye."
They note that dry-eye patients who expect the problem to get
better with LASIK because it will free them from contact lenses
should be warned that their dry eyes may instead persist.
SOURCE: Archives of Ophthalmology 2002;120:1024-1028.
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