While we certainly do not condone the use of illegal or illicit drugs, we are aware that many individuals are users of medical or recreational marijuana. There are a few things our Washington, DC, patients should know regarding marijuana use before and after LASIK. Following proper precautions can ensure a comfortable, successful recovery and long-lasting results.

Here, Dr. Andrew E. Holzman explores the effects of marijuana on ocular and overall health so our patients can be well-informed about their LASIK vision correction procedure.

Marijuana and Corneal Sensation

One of the ocular side effects related to the ingestion of marijuana is a decrease in corneal sensation. This could potentially but rarely lead to healing issues in the post-operative LASIK or PRK patient. If the eye is artificially anesthetized, the patient may not realize that something is wrong in the rare case of a post-op problem. Secondly, a decrease in corneal sensation leads to a decrease in the blink rate, which then leads to dry eye issues.

Marijuana before LASIK

When patients smoke marijuana, it increases sputum production. As a result, individuals are more likely to cough. For this reason alone, it is not ideal to smoke marijuana before LASIK or any type of surgical procedure.

However, there are other methods of cannabis use that are less harmful. Vaporizing has 70 percent fewer irritants compared to smoking. In addition, there are tinctures and edibles available, which will be explored in more detail later on.

No matter which method you choose, it is advised to avoid marijuana use for several hours prior to your procedure. A good rule of thumb is to begin abstinence around 10:00 PM the night before your appointment.

Marijuana after LASIK

Marijuana smoke, just like cigarette smoke, can be an irritant and lead to discomfort and redness of the eyes. In addition, many patients already experience temporary dry eye symptoms following LASIK.

For these reasons we recommend that marijuana users try to abstain for a period of one week if possible. All users of marijuana should certainly hydrate well post operatively and use the recommended artificial tears more vigorously than what is normally recommended.

Edibles vs. Smoking Marijuana

Many of our Washington, DC, patients want to know if marijuana edibles are preferable over smoking. In short, edibles and tinctures are always superior over smoking from a health standpoint. Consuming cannabis in this manner reduces the risk of toxins and carcinogens associated with combustion. If you must smoke, however, blow smoke away from the eyes.

While edibles and tinctures are the healthier choice overall, it is important to note that they can still cause dry eye symptoms. So, for patients undergoing LASIK, it is still best to abstain from cannabis-infused foods for at least one week.

Learn More about LASIK

Are you about to undergo LASIK? Knowing what to anticipate before and after the procedure can help you recover quickly and enjoy crisper, clearer vision. To learn more, or to schedule a visit at our Washington, DC, practice, contact us online or call us at (703) 440-7698.

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