Eyelid Surgery and Dry Eye: What to Expect
The eyelids are a common problem area for aging men and women. Drooping eyelids can leave the face looking old and tired. For some, the eyelids may droop enough to interfere with vision, making daily activities, like driving and reading, difficult. Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, can help address drooping eyelids, rejuvenating the appearance and helping to unobstruct vision impaired by sagging eyelids. Before undergoing belpharoplasty, it's important to understand the potential side effects of treatment, dry eye being the most common. For more information about eyelid surgery and dry eye, schedule a consultation with Edina, MN plastic surgeon Gregory T. Mesna.
Causes of Dry Eye after Eyelid Surgery
Dry eye is not an uncommon side effect after eyelid surgery. In most cases, dry eye only lasts a few days to a few weeks after surgery. When dry eye persists after surgery, it may be due to a pre-existing problem or, in rarer cases, a surgical complication. In order to reduce the risk of persistent dry eye, it's important to undergo a thorough examination and disclose any health or eye problems to your surgeon. Some factors that can increase the risk of dry eye after blepharoplasty include:
- Thyroid problems
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Bulging eyelids
- Prior history of dry eyes
- Weak eyelid ligaments
- Some autoimmune disorders
- Postoperative swelling
- Defect with tear ducts
- Too much tissue removed from the eyelid during surgery
The Symptoms of Dry Eye
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the symptoms of dry eye is watery, teary eyes. This is because there are different tear producing glands that form different tear layers: a mucinous layer, watery layer, and an oily layer. Swelling after surgery can affect these glands, causing tears to be more watery and less lubricating. In addition to watery eyes, dry eye sufferers may also experience increased sensitivity to bright light, general eye discomfort, and a feeling like something is in the eye.
Treatment of Dry Eye
For most patients who experience dry eye after eyelid surgery, symptoms will improve as swelling decreases and the body heals. Saline drops or prescription eyes drops can help alleviate the symptoms of dry eye during recovery and eye lubricants and ointments can also help. However, eye drops or ointments should only be used as recommended by your surgeon. In some cases, temporary contact lenses or temporary lachrymal duct plugs may be used to alleviate dry eye symptoms while swelling reduces after surgery. Though rare, permanent dry eye is a risk of eyelid surgery. If dry eye continues for more than a few weeks after surgery, despite topical treatment, you should see your surgeon.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Mesna
Although temporary dry eye may occur after eyelid surgery, many patients find the benefits of surgery far outweigh any temporary discomfort. To discuss your concerns about eyelid surgery, or for more information about your treatment options, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mesna.