Question: After cataract surgery is it common to develop dry eye? What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Answer: Developing a dry eye after cataract surgery is actually pretty common. Moreover, the incidence of mild to moderate dry eye in a cataract aged population prior to cataract surgery-and exacerbated by cataract surgery makes dry eye a rather common complaint among this group. According to the Prospective Health Assessment of Cataract Patients Ocular Surface (PHACO) Study some 60-75% of a cataract aged population had a meaningful deficiency in their tear film testing. Further, although cataract surgery is quite friendly to the cornea, it does require and incision which has the potential to temporarily interrupt corneal nerves responsible for reflex tearing and tear film integrity as well.
This along with some of the solutions used during the cataract procedure can indeed result in a dry eye. The symptoms one might experience could include fluctuations of vision, dryness, grittiness, tearing, burning and a general tiredness as well as an overall sandy feeling. The good news is that for the vast majority of patients with dry eye there are potentially helpful treatment options that include specialized artificial tear lubricants and solutions, tiny punctal plugs to help you retain tears and prescription medication that stimulates production of your own tears. In addition there are more technological approaches such as lasers and other methods to treating underlying blepharitis, eyelid gland problems or eyelid inflammation that can contribute to dry eye as well.