The Risks Of Vaping After Lasik
Some say that vaping may be a healthier alternative to smoking. After all, vaping with electronic cigarettes does avoid a lot of the tar and carcinogens that come with tobacco cigarettes. But vaping isn't without its risks. Vaping e-liquid still contains chemicals and these chemicals can still affect and hurt the body. But what about specifically after lasik. How does vaping affect the eyes after lasik?
Dry eye after lasik
It's no secret that lasik causes some short-term dry eye. Dry eye is a complex condition with various causes. After lasik, the eye has a decreased ability to respond to drying conditions.
There are tiny little nerves all throughout the cornea. These nerves are involved in letting us know when we need to produce more tears for our eye. After lasik, these nerves are disrupted by the lasik flap and treatment. They have a decreased ability to signal for more tear production. As a result, we have less tear production shortly after lasik and more dry eye.
Eventually these nerves grow back, but until then, the goal in the post-lasik period is to control this dryness and prevent it from getting worse.
With dry eye comes inflammation. Inflammation further hinders our ability to produce tears. What causes inflammation on the surface of the eye? Well, dryness is a cause. You can see the problem here. If inflammation builds up on the eye, it will cause the eye to dry out more which will cause more inflammation. Better than to prevent that inflammation from building up.
Vaping will actually also cause dry eye. While there is still more information to uncover about vaping, there are a few things we already.
The vapor from vaping is more than just harmless water vapor. The vapor will contain small amounts of ultra-fine chemicals (check out no-smoke.org if you're curious about all the different varieties of chemicals). While the overall amount of chemicals are less than what exists in tobacco smoke, they still exist.
These chemicals are also slightly different from those in tobacco smoke. Chemicals in the vaping e-liquid will lead to poor tears that don't last on the surface of the eye. Recent research has linked vaping to the development of an unstable tear film on the surface of the eye. The tear film is a natural layer of mucous, tears and oil on the surface of our eye that protects our eye from drying out. An unstable tear film breaks up quickly exposing the cornea and causing inflammation and dry eye. So, as a result, "vapers" will have moderate to severe dry eye from vaping.
Prevent vaping from causing problems after lasik
Dry eye from vaping is problematic after lasik. After lasik we want to avoid dry eye, not cause it. Vaping will lead to a prolonged recovery of dry eye after lasik. The exposure to these chemicals make it harder for the eye to heal up. The dry eye will take longer to go away and could require additional means to treat (plus you can develop chronic dry eye just from the vaping).
What can you do to prevent any prolonged recovery? (in order from most effective to least effective)
- The most obvious one is to not vape. By stopping vaping, you prevent the vapor from affecting your eyes. But this one is much easier said than done. Vaping is addictive. The nicotine makes it addictive. But perhaps an easier course after lasik as well as well as quitting resources such as truthinitiative.org can help get you to quit.
- Switch to nicotine replacement therapy. This can be a better option than vaping. There are many over the counter options such as lozenges, gum and patches that can help provide nicotine without the need for vaping.
- Cut back on the vaping. Vape as little as you need to get by. Cutting back to once or twice a day instead of continuously chain vaping through the day can dramatically drop exposure to vapor chemicals.
- Wear goggles while vaping. Want to vape and prevent the vapor from getting in the eyes? Goggles will do just the trick. Goggles will block all outside air from reaching the eyes. It may look funny, but it will be effective in helping to prevent dry eye.
- Wrap-around sunglasses as the "cooler" alternative to goggles. If you don't want to wear goggles because it may look weird, than full coverage sunglasses can be another option. While these won't have the full protection that goggles have, they can still help keep some of the vapor out of the eyes.
- Vape outdoors. Many cigarette smokers already smoke outdoors. Because vapor doesn't have the lasting smell of cigarette smoke, vaping is done more frequently indoors than smoking. But vaping in an enclosed space can potentially expose your eyes to more of the chemicals in the vapor. Go outside instead. Being outside and blowing the vapor away from yourself can help keep it away from your eyes. As a plus, wearing wrap-around sunglasses outdoors (at least during the day), will look very normal outside.
- Reduce the voltage. Having a high voltage can create bigger vapor clouds. Some people like to create as big as clouds as possible - called cloud chasing. But more voltage means you will aerosolize more chemicals which means more tear film problems and more dry eye.
Lastly, it will be even more important to religiously treat the dry eye after lasik. Frequent use of preservative-free artificial tears are going to be important to help replenish the tear film and wash away extra inflammation on the surface of the eye. For prolonged dry eye, talk with your eye doctor about additional therapies that can be used to allow everything to heal up.
In summary, vaping after lasik is generally not the best way to promote quick healing. But if you are going to vape, it's best to follow a few precautions such as cutting back, protecting your eyes, going outdoors and reducing the voltage. These are all great ways to help reduce the exposure of your eyes and prevent developing dry eye issues after lasik from vaping.
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