What You Need to Know About Allergies and LASIK - SightMD Skip to main content

August 31, 2022

By: Faye Knoll, MD

What You Need to Know About Allergies and LASIK

Woman with allergies blowing into a tissue

Suffering from allergies can cause uncomfortable ocular conditions like dryness or even conjunctivitis. Unfortunately, if you have to wear contact lenses to see clearly, these optical aids can make your allergy symptoms worse. Pollen, dander, and particulate matter can attach to contact lenses and further irritate your eyes. For this reason, many patients who suffer from both refractive errors and chronic allergies pursue LASIK eye surgery. If you’re considering LASIK, you may wonder if you’re a good candidate. Most people with a refractive error can safely have LASIK.

Can Someone with Eye Allergies Undergo LASIK?

While allergic symptoms can be uncomfortable, they don’t always mean that you can’t have a safe and comfortable recovery. If you have allergic conjunctivitis, which is an allergic reaction in your eyes, you may already be familiar with the symptoms which can include itching, burning, watering, and even mucus buildup. They occur around any allergen, but one of the more common allergens is pollen which is most abundant during the spring. Another common eye condition with similar symptoms is dry eye syndrome which occurs when your eyes aren’t getting enough moisture. It’s common to have dry eyes in warmer weather, so it can even coincide with seasonal allergies. But where allergies usually cause an itchy feeling, having dry eyes may feel more like burning or like there’s grit in your eyes.

Do Eye Allergies Affect LASIK Candidacy?

No. In fact, LASIK surgery is often recommended as a treatment option for patients struggling with contact lenses and allergies. There are certain considerations prospective LASIK patients with allergies must make. Anything that interferes with your eye’s ability to create tears can affect your ability to heal after a refractive procedure such as LASIK eye surgery. Patients who experience seasonal itching, burning, tearing, and redness may be asked to time their procedures so that their symptoms are not as severe when they undergo surgery. However, these symptoms alone will not necessarily make them unfit to undergo LASIK. Most patients with eye allergies are permitted to undergo LASIK as long as they are otherwise good candidates for the procedure. A good candidate should:

  • Suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have sufficiently thick corneas
  • Be in good ocular health
  • Maintain a stable optometric prescription to qualify for LASIK

What to expect with Eye Allergies and LASIK Side Effects

Some patients with allergies are concerned that LASIK side effects could be worse for them. One of the most common side effects of LASIK surgery is dry eye, which is usually temporary. Patients who suffer from chronic dry eye due to allergies will be at increased risk of a more severe and permanent form of the condition.

Will my allergies improve after LASIK?

Wearing contact lenses and having allergies is a very bad combination. During allergy season, pollen can get everywhere, including your clothes and your hands. While LASIK cannot improve your allergies ​​LASIK can make your allergy symptoms less debilitating. This is especially true for allergy sufferers that also wear contact lenses. You have to touch your eyes on a regular basis when you put in and take out your contact lenses. There’s no guarantee that when you touch your eyes throughout the day that you won’t get pollen in your eyes at some point.

How Eye Allergies Influence LASIK Recovery

Patients with eye allergies must understand that the success of their procedures will depend largely on their ability to follow the post-surgical instructions.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, rub or tug at your eyes, especially for the first few days following your procedure. Although your eyes may feel dry or itchy, moving them could disrupt your healing, impact your results, or increase your risk for infection.
  • Use steroid, allergy, and anti-inflammatory eye drops for several weeks after your LASIK surgery. These will help manage any side effects you experience and, as an added bonus, should also help alleviate any allergy symptoms you regularly suffer.
  • Contact us if you experience persistent discomfort or any other troubling symptoms after your LASIK surgery. Our doctors will be available to address your concerns and monitor your recovery to help ensure you heal successfully.

Tired of dealing with contact lenses during allergy season? Find out if you’re a LASIK candidate by scheduling a LASIK consultation at SightMD!