older couple smiling together

As you age, you are more likely to have problems with your vision. More often than not, multiple issues are present simultaneously, and sometimes they conflict.

The relationship between cataracts and dry eye is a good example. Unfortunately, both issues are big problems for older adults.

Cataracts grow inside the lens of your eye, gradually blocking out light until they darken your vision. Without the intervention of cataract surgery, they eventually cause total vision loss.

Dry eye also predominantly affects older people. It’s not uncommon for someone to experience both cataracts and dry eye at the same time.

If you suffer from both dry eye and cataracts, you will have to take care of your dry eye before cataract surgery. Keep reading to learn more about cataract surgery and dry eye.

Why Would Dry Eye Affect My Cataract Surgery Eligibility?

If you have cataracts, you need to undergo cataract surgery to restore your vision. Cataract surgery replaces your natural lens with an intraocular lens or IOL.

IOLs can correct your vision to what it was before cataracts and, in some cases, make it better than it ever has been. To remove your natural lens and replace it with an IOL during cataract surgery, your surgeon first creates a small opening in your cornea.

This opening is small and painless due to the anesthetic used at the beginning of the procedure. But it can disrupt nerves inside the cornea that help the eye detect when it is low on moisture. 

Without this sensitivity, the eye may stop producing tears. If you were already struggling with dry eye, this could drastically worsen the problem.

Post cataract surgery, dry eye can make your dry eye issue more than annoying irritation. It can prevent your eyes from healing and make your dry eyes something that could take your vision.

Treating Dry Eye

The first step to treating your dry eyes is to have your eye doctor diagnose the exact problem. From there, they can recommend the proper treatment to get your eyes hydrated again.

Through various tests and procedures, your eye doctor will be able to determine why your eyes are so dry. It can be from a lack of tears, a missing ingredient in your tears, or a combination of the two issues.

How to Make More Tears 

If your eyes are not producing enough tears, your eye doctor may prescribe you drugs to stimulate tear production. Or, they may insert punctal plugs into your eyes.

Punctal plugs block tears from draining out of your eyes. Filling the eye drains, known as puncta, forces the tears your eyes manage to produce to stay on the surface longer.

Another option is artificial tear inserts that slowly release moisture over time. These can ensure there is always enough moisture in your eyes.

Enhance the Quality of Your Tears

Inadequate tears are missing or lacking one or more of the ingredients in quality tears. Healthy tears include water, mucus, and oil, and each ingredient has its job.

Typically when tears are of poor quality, it is because they are missing oil. The oil in your tears coats the tear and prevents it from evaporating, thus keeping your eyes hydrated.

To fix this, you have to unblock the glands that produce the oil. LipiFlow and BlephEx are two gentle procedures that can remove blocks from your oil-producing glands.

Healthy, hydrated eyes are necessary for recovery after cataract surgery. If you don’t have hydrated eyes, your body will have trouble healing after the procedure.

That’s why you must treat your dry eye before your cataract surgery. Schedule an appointment at Colorado Eye Consultants in Littleton, CO, to fix your dry eyes before cataract surgery!