LASIK & Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is one of the most dreaded side effects of LASIK surgery.  Even though most patients eventually recover, there are few who suffer long term.  Recovery, however, is directly tied to the technology used to perform the surgery. 

A study discovered an enormous difference in patients’ recovery from dry eyes following a LASIK procedure using Metal Blade Microkeratome as opposed to LASIK procedures using IntraLase Femtosecond Laser.  Steve Wilson and others at the Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio, performed the study and their results are presented in the table below.  Whereas 46% of Blade Microkeratome LASIK patients had significant dry eyes, only 8% of patients who received IntraLase experienced dry eyes.



Metal Blade Microkeratome LASIK

IntraLase Femtosecond Laser LASIK

Dry Eyes at 1 Month



Significant enough Dry Eyes to require treatment with Restasis drops




At Northern California Laser Center, Dr. Ash has also found there are still few former patients who receiver LASIK using blade microkeratome that still suffer from dry eyes.  Yet, since 2007 when he converted exclusively to IntraLase, the worst cases of dry eyes tend to last no more than 6 months.  Most of Dr. Ash’s Modesto and Stockton LASIK patients have returned to their baseline by 1-3 months, and those that fared worst, had fully recovered by 6 months.  There are also many patients such as Geno, the former KHOP radio DJ, that did not find any further use for artificial tears 10 days after LASIK surgery.


Dry Eye Associated with laser in situ Keratomileusis: Mechanical microkeratome versus femtosecond laser.  Salomao MQ, Ambrosio R Jr, Wilson SE.  J Cataract Refract Surg. 2009 Oct;35(10):1756-60.  Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA



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