Why Is My Eye Red After LASIK?

By Andrew Holzman on March 18, 2019

Blood spot in the white of the eyeLast year, an estimated 663,000 LASIK surgeries were performed in the United States. Both safe and effective, LASIK improves your vision and reduces your dependence on contact lenses and glasses. Dr. Andrew E. Holzman has performed countless LASIK surgeries over the years on patients in the greater Washington, DC area. The results of LASIK have been routinely positive.

LASIK does have a few possible post op issues that patients must note. One of these is transient red eye. Let’s consider why red eye occurs after LASIK and what can be done to reduce this unwanted redness.

Is Red Eye Common After LASIK?

Temporary red eye is common post operatively but this is especially true if special precautions are not taken prior to the procedure.  

During LASIK, a flap is created in the topmost layer of the cornea and the corneal contour is reshaped. As a response to the changes made to the surface of the eye, the eye can get red. This is a normal reaction to eye surgery, and it is only temporary.   In our office however we take special precautions and use special drops prior to surgery to minimize redness following the procedure.

Two Common Types of Red Eye After LASIK

There are two types of red eye many patients might experience:

  • Blood Spots in the Whites of the Eye - Following LASIK, you may notice some little spots of blood appear on the white portion of the eye. While this may seem disconcerting, this is simply a sign that some blood vessels were broken during the procedure. It is normal, temporary, and not harmful to your vision or your eyes.  We use special drops prior to the surgery to minimize these kinds of blood spots. It is actually relatively rare in our practice to have this occur but if it does remember it is not a big deal. These go away within a week or so.  
  • Red Eye Due to Dry Eye - After LASIK, patients will notice issues with eye moisture for a few months. Dry eye is a normal temporary side effect of surgery, and normal tear production will resume after a several weeks/months of recovery. Continued issues with dry eye may occur but are very rare and can be managed with proper diligence of the patient and Doctor.   Chronic dry eye is very rare in today's procedures.  We are especially cautious to pre-treat any dry eye conditions and use everything in our arsenal to treat dry eye postop.   There are several OTC and prescription medications that help deal with this issue should it arise. 

Treating Common Red Eye Issues After LASIK

For blood spots in the white of the eye, no treatment is necessary. The spots should disappear on their own after about a week as part of the normal recovery process.

As for red eye associated with dry eye, it’s important that patients use lubricating eye drops frequently post op and of course whenever they experience dry, itchy, or irritated sensations. We prescribe strong prescription strength drops for dry eye syndrome and also recommend Omega Three fatty acids by mouth.   It is also be helpful to look away from screens periodically to restore a proper blink rate, and avoid fans and vents blowing air into the eyes.    

After using a computer or your phone for 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds at a spot roughly 20 feet away. This can do a lot to prevent excessive dryness of the eyes and improve overall comfort when working with screens for long periods of time.    Also, we like to recommend a sticker that reminds patients to blink while on the computer.   Staring without blinking regularly is a common cause of drying and redness. 

Other Reasons for Red Eye After LASIK

In addition to the above, patients may also experience red eye after LASIK as a result of post-op infection or inflammation. These are exceedingly rare events (far less than even 1%).. In most all of these cases, these problems can be addressed with the use of medicated eye drops, though additional professional care may be required.

What Should I Do If My Red Eye Does Not Improve?

If you have red eye after LASIK that lasts more than a few days without improvement, be sure to speak with a member of our team. Having the matter addressed as soon as possible is important for improving your comfort and well being and ensuring good overall vision health.

Learn More About LASIK

For more information about the latest in laser vision correction surgery and effective aftercare, be sure to contact an experienced LASIK surgeon and eye care specialist. Dr. Holzman is here to help. You can reach our office by phone at (202) 785-2435.

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