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Hello and thanks for your question.
Your predicament is, unfortunately, somewhat common; that is because the prevalence of dry eye syndrome is quite high. There are many causes of dry eye and one patient can have many of those reasons all combining together to make the eye dry. It is a hard and fast fact that any eye that suffers from dry eye will likely have worse dry eye after having had eye surgery.
I do not think you made the wrong decision to have your cataract out and an artificial lens implant put in. Quite the contrary--I think ultimately you will likely have a very good outcome, but the dry eye needs to be treated aggressively and consistently for some time to make sure the eye "gets over" the increased dryness from the surgery.
It would be incumbent upon your eye doctor to determine what all the sources of your dry eyes are so each can be treated individually to assure that the dry eye gets better. The mainstay of dry eye treatment is, however, artificial tear use. These need to be used consistently at least 4x/day, every day, for several weeks. If you use the tears only when you feel like your eye needs them, then they do not work as they should and you are just wasting time and money--consistent use is the key. In addition, if there are other reasons for dry eye that need a different treatment, then your eye doctor should be able to delineate these for you and institute treatment for them.
Once the dry eye syndrome is brought under control, then your visual results from the cataract surgery are likely to be favorable and I'd be willing to bet that you'll probably be happy with the results.
Does that make sense and does that help address your concerns?
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You can also use a lubricating ophthalmic ointment as needed and this will help lubricate the eye, helping it feel better and get better quicker. Many people who have eyelash mattering in the morning, a burning/irritation/gritty sensation in the morning which improves as the day goes on may also have blepharitis, which is inflammation of the eyelids causing a substandard tear film covering the eye. If you have had these symptoms prior to your surgery, then you may be suffering from this as well. In that case, use hot (don't burn yourself) compresses for 10 minutes each morning (make sure you are using a clean washcloth as you've just had surgery). Just hold the compress on the eye and don't rub your eye as you do not want to disturb the incisions. After that, make a dilute baby shampoo solution by putting 4-5 drops of Johnsons Baby Shampoo in a 1/4 cup of warm water. Dip a Q-tip in this and use it to scrub the eyelashes of all 4 eyelids for 15 seconds per eyelid, totaling 1 minute. Then gently splash the solution off your eyelids. Doing this in addition to the artificial tears will likely improve your dry eye tremendously.
If you are getting no better after doing these therapies for 2-3 weeks (it takes that long for the blepharitis treatment of hot compresses and eyelid scrubs to kick in), then you may have significant inflammation associated with the dry eye and may need a mild steroid drop to help calm down the inflammation.
Does that make sense?