Dry Eye Problems After Cataract Surgery & How We Help Dry Eyes

Reviewed by: Leslie Doctor, MD &

Jason Jacobs, MD

In carefully designed and controlled clinical studies a significant number of patients have been found to experience dry eye symptoms or have problems with dry eyes after Cataract Surgery. Dry eye is actually a very common eye problem that affects millions of people. Patients who experience dry eyes often complain of eye dryness, burning, irritation or a “gritty-sandy” foreign body sensation, blurry vision that gets clearer after blinking and sometimes even sticky eyelids.

Dry eyes after Cataract Surgery can make many daily activities-such as reading, sewing, using a computer and driving-difficult and uncomfortable. The tear film is actually an important optical component of the eye and a dry eye can even cause Cataract Surgery patients to think that the results of their surgery is not very good because their vision is blurry. Besides the optical role, the tear film provides protection and nourishment to the eye’s surface so it is quite important to have a health tear film.


Dry eye problems occur because you do not have a sufficient amount of healthy tears. Sometimes you may have a borderline dry eye before your Cataract Surgery and just lived with it. However, sometimes the Cataract operation itself may contribute to or cause the dry eye symptoms to become worse.

Normally, there is a nerve connection from the Cornea and the eye’s surface to the Lacrimal Gland that is responsible for producing tears. Modern Cataract Surgery is quite safe for the Cornea but does require a tiny incision to be made. If that tiny incision also cuts some of the nerves it can disrupt the normal neural connection and reduce your tear production. In addition, sometimes the medications, eye drops and fluids used before, during and after Cataract Surgery can disrupt the tear film and even cause mild inflammation of the eye’s surface. All of these considerations can exacerbate a previous dry eye problem or even cause one to occur.

If you have a preexisting dry eye problem or an eyelid inflammation problem, called Blepharitis, it might be necessary for your Cataract Surgeon to pre treat your dry eyes prior to your Cataract removal. Depending on extent and severity of your dry eye before or after Cataract Surgery the surgeon may prescribe specially formulated artificial tear eye drops to replace tears and lubricate the eye’s surface, tiny “punctal plugs” that insert comfortably in your tear ducts and help retain the tears in your eyes and/or Restasis® prescription eye drops to help you make more of own tears naturally.

If you have a preexisting dry eye problem or have ever been treated for dry eyes, be sure to tell your Cataract Surgeon prior to your surgery so that he or she can help you be comfortable and see your best after your surgery. If you experience dry eye symptoms after your surgery, also be sure to tell your Cataract Surgeon so that they can take the necessary steps to get you the best results as your eyes heal and the eye’s surface returns to normal. In any event-speak up-but do not be overly concerned as almost all dry eye problems after Cataract Surgery are temporary and with proper attention pass uneventfully. 

The information that has been provided here is intended to give patients an overview of possible Dry Eye Symptoms and Cataract Surgery. It is possible that your individual experience might be different. None of the information provided here is meant to be a substitute or replace your physician’s consultation nor does it replace the need for you to consult with your surgeon about specific details of Cataract Surgery complications.
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