Purpose: To determine whether patients undergoing laser in situ keratomileusis have postoperative dry eye.
Methods: In this retrospective, interventional case series, 124 eyes of 64 consecutive patients who underwent laser in situ keratomileusis were examined for a dry eye symptom, Schirmer test with anesthesia, tear clearance rate, tear break-up time, vital staining for ocular surface, corneal sensitivity, and blink rate. All values were compared before and after surgery (1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year) and values of P <.05 were considered statistically significant.
Results: Subjective score for dryness was increased after laser in situ keratomileusis. Tear function index (Schirmer value/tear clearance rate) and break-up time were decreased until 1 month (tear function index) and 3 months (break-up time) after laser in situ keratomileusis but recovered to preoperative levels thereafter. Fluorescein and rose bengal scores were unchanged at all follow-up points except for improvement of the rose bengal score at 6 months. Corneal sensitivity was decreased at 1 month and 3 months, and returned to the preoperative level at 6 months after laser in situ keratomileusis. Blink rate was decreased at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year after laser in situ keratomileusis.
Conclusions: Patients undergoing laser in situ keratomileusis develop dry eye with compromised tear function for at least 1 month after surgery. Use of artificial tears in the early postoperative period may help to prevent unwanted symptoms and ocular surface damage.