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Is it Safe to Get LASIK While Pregnant?
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is a surgical procedure using a laser to permanently change the shape of the cornea (the clear covering on the front of the eye). The purpose of LASIK is to correct common vision issues, reducing the need for glasses or contact lenses.
LASIK is both safe and popular. Over 10 million Americans have undergone LASIK with a 96% success rate. However, LASIK is contraindicated for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.2
During pregnancy, eyes can change and make LASIK results unpredictable. Several factors can contribute to eye changes, including:
- Fluid retention
- Increased blood volume
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Other physical changes
How Pregnancy Hormones Affect Your Eyes
Hormonal changes during pregnancy affect the ocular system. This can lead to corneal thickness, corneal curvature, and a decrease in intraocular pressure.
Pregnancy symptoms can lead to several temporary vision changes:
Water retention during pregnancy can change eye shape and structure, leading to blurry vision. These changes are usually temporary and vision will return to normal after delivery.
Preeclampsia and eclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure) during pregnancy could also lead to blurred and decreased vision.
Floaters and Flashes
Water retention and variations in blood volume during pregnancy can result in floaters and flashes in the eye.
Eye floaters appear as dark specks, circles, or dots within the field of vision. Floaters are caused by clumps of cells in the vitreous (jelly-like substance that fills the eye), creating shadows on the retina. Floaters during pregnancy are usually temporary, but they can also be a symptom of a detached retina.
Flashes appear as lighting streaks or flashing lights in the field of vision. Flashes are caused by the vitreous gel pulling on the retina. Flashes are common with age and pregnancy but should be examined by an eye doctor.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy lead to decreased tear production, resulting in dry eyes. Dry eyes are common during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Blurred vision
- The feeling of something in the eye
- Mucus discharge
- Eye pain and irritation
Loss of Vision
In some women, pregnancy can trigger diseases that cause vision loss, including:
- Hypertensive retinopathy
- Gestational diabetes
- Central serous choroidopathy (fluid build-up under the retina)
While blurry vision during pregnancy is normal, vision regression is a medical emergency and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
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Should You Get LASIK Before or After Pregnancy?
LASIK is a safe and effective procedure for women who have been or plan on becoming pregnant.
However, it is not advised to undergo LASIK while pregnant because of temporary vision changes that can alter the surgery results.
LASIK Before Pregnancy
LASIK is safe for women who plan to become pregnant. Still, it is advised to wait about 6 months after LASIK surgery to become pregnant due to several conditions, including:
- Pregnancy hormones can affect eyesight
- Fluid retention during pregnancy can alter LASIK results
- Post-LASIK medications are not safe for a developing fetus or nursing baby
Wearing contacts during pregnancy can be painful and uncomfortable. Undergoing LASIK before pregnancy can eliminate the inconvenience of dealing with contact lenses during and after pregnancy.
LASIK After Pregnancy
While getting LASIK after pregnancy is safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends women wait one to two months post-pregnancy or after you are done breastfeeding to undergo LASIK. This gives the body time to stabilize and allows vision to return to normal.
LASIK is also not recommended during breastfeeding because the medicated eye drops used after surgery are unsafe for newborns.
When LASIK Might Be Considered During Pregnancy
Most eye surgeons don’t recommend LASIK during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
However, an ophthalmologist may consider LASIK during pregnancy if the following conditions are met:
- The mother’s eyeglass prescription has not changed in the last year
- The patient is willing to undergo LASIK surgery without preoperative sedation
- A thorough consultation with the surgeon has been completed, and both parties have sound reasoning to continue with the procedure
- Comprehensive eye exam findings and measurements are normal
- The mother is aware that she will not be able to use the best antibiotic drops after surgery because they can harm the developing baby
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Other Factors to Think About
Women considering laser eye surgery before or after having a baby should also consider these factors:
- Newborn care is easier when you don’t have to worry about contacts or glasses
- Dry eyes caused by hormonal changes can make wearing contact lenses painful
- Whether your doctor thinks you are a candidate for LASIK after pregnancy
- If your vision has returned to normal after pregnancy
LASIK is a safe and effective laser eye surgery to correct common vision problems. LASIK is not recommended for pregnant women because hormone fluctuations can change eye shape and structure. Medications taken before and after LASIK are harmful to a developing fetus and nursing baby.
Eye doctors recommend getting LASIK several months before becoming pregnant. If you plan on getting LASIK after pregnancy, you should wait several months after delivery when vision has returned to normal and you are finished breastfeeding.
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