If you are thinking about LASIK and are pregnant, you may have questions that you need answered. LASIK surgery is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing. Having the procedure now may lead to less-than-ideal results for you and unnecessary health risks for your baby.
Your LASIK surgeon will make tiny, precise adjustments to the shape of your cornea in order to correct your vision. To do that effectively, they need an accurate measurement of your current prescription. During pregnancy, your eyesight is likely to shift and change. If you have LASIK now, you’re likely to end up with vision that’s either over-corrected or under-corrected: a deeply frustrating experience. After delivery (or after you finish breastfeeding), your eyes will stabilize once again. Your surgeon will then be able to calculate the perfect adjustments to give you the great results you want.
Defense against infection is an important concern for LASIK patients. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics and steroid drops to make your recovery quick, easy, and comfortable. Before the procedure, you may be given a mild sedative (like Valium) to help relieve anxiety. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you’ll be sharing all these medications with your baby.
Thanks to hormonal changes, many pregnant women find that their eyes don’t produce as much fluid as they normally do when they blink. Because dryness irritates the cornea, it can cause complications in LASIK surgery. In addition, LASIK itself tends to cause temporarily dry eyes. Rather than risk ending up with incomplete vision-correction or complicated healing, it’s best to wait and have LASIK done after delivery.
All lasers produce radiation. While LASIK equipment is unlikely to cause harm to an unborn baby, many women are rightly concerned about the possible effect of any environmental contaminant, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.
How Long Should I Wait?
Talk with your doctor about how long to wait before going ahead with your procedure. Common guidelines include:
- Defer LASIK for at least two menstrual cycles after finishing breastfeeding.
- Avoid pregnancy for the first three months after LASIK.
What If I Really, Really Want To Get It Done?
If you feel you have good reasons not to wait, discuss your needs with your surgeon and obstetrician. LASIK during pregnancy may be possible as long as:
• Your vision hasn’t changed in the past year.
• The results of your comprehensive eye exam and refractive surgery measurements are normal.
• You’re willing to undergo LASIK without a preoperative sedative.
• You understand that infection is a serious concern, and that some of the best antibiotics are not recommended for use during pregnancy.
• You’ve consulted with your surgeon and your obstetrician, and both approve.
In general, it’s wise to hold off on LASIK surgery if you’re pregnant or nursing. That way, you can be confident that your procedure will be safe, easy, and effective.
If you have further questions about LASIK and pregnancy, we’ll be happy to discuss them with you. Contact New England Eye Center today to learn more about best practices for LASIK!