Cataracts and dry eye are conditions that are very different from each other, but share two important things in common: they affect eyesight, and they can be treated. Furthermore, the two do have a relationship. Dry eye is one of the risks associated with cataract surgery, as a pre-existing dry eye can be made worse after cataract surgery. Before going into ways to avoid this, let’s learn a little bit about each condition and how they are treated.
Cataracts form when proteins in the eye clump up together on the lens, blocking vision. The process is slow and gradual, but at some point, your ability to see will become seriously impacted. Fortunately, cataracts are easily removed through surgery, which happens to be one of the safest medical procedures in the world.
During cataract surgery, the lens of the eye that is affected with a cataract is removed and replaced with something called an IOL, which stands for “intraocular lens”. This synthetic lens acts the same way as your natural lens, and can even correct refractive errors. After cataract surgery, you could have better eyesight than ever before!
The surgery is painless, though you can expect some mild discomfort during a short portion of the procedure that lasts just a few moments. Full recovery only takes about a month, but you should be able to see clearly fairly quickly after surgery.
Dry eye can stem from many different causes. Broadly defined, it is when you either do not produce enough tears, or the tears that are produced are bad quality. Bad quality tears mean that your tears are lacking in one of their primary ingredients. Tears consist mostly of water, mucus, and oil. The water carries the nutrients of the tear across the eye, the mucus binds the water, and the oil stops the water from evaporating too quickly.
Dry eye treatment can range from simple lifestyle changes like avoiding dry or dusty areas and avoiding staring at a screen for too long, to clinical medications and treatments. These treatments include prescription eye drops, devices that stimulate and encourage tear production, and surgeries to partially block the eyes’ natural tear draining system or help with oil production by unblocking the glands that produce it.
To end, here are some quick facts when it comes to dry eye and cataract surgery:
- If you have dry eye prior to cataract surgery, you may need to wait to clear it up so that your dry eye is not exacerbated.
- In addition, a pre-existing dry eye condition can negatively affect the outcome of cataract surgery.
- If you experience long-lasting dry eye after surgery, it may be from not washing your eyelids properly. This can allow the oil-producing glands to become clogged.
- The likelihood of dry eye worsening after cataract surgery is significantly more common in elderly patients.
If you think that you may have cataracts, you will need to consult an eye doctor to know if you are ready for cataract surgery. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Pinke in Shelton, CT to find out if you have dry eye and when you can get your vision back!