We have all experienced the discomfort of dry eyes at some point. It’s that unpleasant situation in which your eyes feel gritty, sticky, burning, or itchy, and your vision can be blurred.

Dry eyes are often the result of environmental conditions, such as wind, dry heat, or particulates in the air. However, some people may have hereditary conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis) that either prevent the body’s natural tears from having enough lubricant to soothe dry eyes or don’t allow enough tears to form in the first place.

A cosmetic surgical procedure on the eyelids can also cause dry eyes, as the eyelids are part of the body’s natural defense system against injury. What can be done to keep your eyes well lubricated following your eyelid surgery? Dr. Paul Pin outlines some steps you can take to protect your eyes and get the best possible results from your eyelid surgery.

What Causes Dry Eyes after Eyelid Surgery?

Swelling of the eyelids as a normal part of the healing process can irritate the eyes, which is the main cause of dryness. If the eyelids are swollen, they may not fully close when you blink. This prevents them from completely lubricating the eyes, which will dry them out due to faster evaporation. Furthermore, when you do blink, the natural lubricant from your tears may not be as effectively spread over the entire surface of the eye. Exposure to dry environments, such as wind or dry heat from furnaces, will speed up this evaporation process.

Furthermore, eyelid surgery will affect structures of both the upper and lower eyelid that are involved with keeping the eye lubricated. To remove bags and pockets of excess fat under the lower lid, Dr. Pin must make an incision just under the lower lash line. This incision may affect the tear duct, which is located at the inner corner of the lower lash line, leading to a change in the body’s ability to produce enough lubricant for the eye.

For the upper eyelid, Dr. Pin will make an incision through the orbicularis muscles, which are responsible for opening and closing the eyelid, if excess skin must be removed. This may leave the muscle somewhat weak for the first month or two following surgery, during which time the natural blink reaction may not be as effective at keeping the eye lubricated.

Treating Dry Eyes

The easiest way to treat dry eyes following eyelid surgery is to use artificial tears to keep the eyes properly hydrated. Dr. Pin recommends using the ones that come in individual, one-time use vials that contain lubricants to match your natural tear production. These artificial tears can be used as often as needed to sooth your eyes. Dr. Pin also recommends using a lubricating ointment or gel at night, just before bedtime. To reduce the swelling, which will help restore natural function to your eyelids more quickly, use cold gel packs or compresses once your sutures have fully closed over.

Dry eyes after eyelid surgery can be annoying. However, with simple treatments and remembering not to rub your eyes, you should be seeing relief in almost no time at all.