Extensive chemotherapy and radiation to the head, as well as GvHD, can damage the glands that produce tears. As a result your eyes may not produce enough tears or the right mixture of oils and moisture to keep them healthy and comfortable.
Many patients report problems with their eyes after a transplant. Usually patients say they are dry or gritty (sicca syndrome) from reduced tear flow.
Cataracts are a common problem post transplant particularly if you have had a full intensity transplant. The incidence for those who received full fractionated total body irradiation is 15% at 10 years; this risk will increase with age. A cataract is the clouding of the normally clear and transparent lens of the eye. Cataracts can easily be treated with surgery.
It is very likely that you will be referred to ophthalmology if you experience any issues.
Below are measures that you could take to help reduce symptoms:
A warm compress using a hot flannel can be applied over the eyelids. This works by loosening up hardened oil that clogs the glands in the eyes.
Adding moisture to the environment by using a humidifier in your house or office could be a good idea but they do pose an infection risk of water-harbouring bacteria. Get advice from your clinician before getting one.
Specially designed glasses can create a moisture chamber around your eyes to minimize drying.
Daylight may seem harsh and bright sunshine intolerable also wind and smoke may be painful. Wearing sunglasses will help this.
A high dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil and flaxseed oil) may help.
Other possibilities include autologous serum eye drops.
Tear ducts can be plugged with tiny silicone plugs. This reduces how fast the tears drain and helps to conserve your natural tears and artificial drops that you have administered
The eye specialist will be able to make the best recommendations for you.