Are there any risks associated with Lasik surgery for people who have chronic dry eyes?

Are there any risks associated with Lasik surgery for people who have chronic dry eyes? Are there any alternatives to this procedure for people who have dry eyes and cannot tolerate drops constantly every time they wake up?

There is not much to add to Dr. Wilkinson's excellent description of "dry eye." All keratorefractive (re-shaping of the cornea) laser procedures will cause or worsen a dry eye condition. This is because the sensory nerves in the cornea unavoidably get damaged during the laser removal of corneal tissue. [The lacrimal glands and their ability to produce tears is not affected -it is the "message" they are getting from the cornea is muted due to that nerve damage.]

It takes from 3 months to as long as a year for the nerves to re-grow enough to make up for the damage. It is also likely that they will never grow back 100%, meaning a patient with borderline dry eyes may develop a permanent dry eye condition.

There are indeed other options to correct nearsightedness that do NOT damage (or even touch) corneal nerves. The Evo-ICL, an "implantable contact lens" is probably the best known. Furthermore, the Evo-ICL can be used even in very high nearsighted eyes where LASIK is not appropriate.

J. Trevor Woodhams, M.D. - Chief of Surgery, Woodhams Eye Clinic