Pregnancy is a magical time filled with excitement and anticipation in a woman’s life. However, it also brings numerous physiological changes, including those affecting vision. For women considering LASIK eye surgery, these changes can raise concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the procedure during pregnancy. “Can you get LASIK while pregnant?” is a common question asked by expecting mothers. And what are the alternatives for vision correction during this special time?
In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of pregnancy on vision, the risks of LASIK surgery during pregnancy, and the best timing for the procedure. We’ll also discuss how to prepare for LASIK as a pregnant or postpartum woman and present alternatives to LASIK for those who need vision correction during pregnancy.
Table of contents
- Pregnancy can cause a variety of vision-related symptoms due to hormonal fluctuations and fluid retention.
- LASIK surgery is Not recommended for pregnant women, but alternatives such as glasses or contact lenses are available.
- It is best to wait until after pregnancy or breastfeeding before considering LASIK surgery to reduce potential risks associated with hormonal fluctuations.
Understanding the Impact of Pregnancy on Vision
Pregnancy triggers numerous changes in a woman’s body, including vision changes which can be considered as pregnancy symptoms. These vision changes can be attributed to hormonal fluctuations and fluid retention, which influence corneal shape and thickness. As a result, many women may experience blurred vision, dry eyes, and even alterations in their corneal sensitivity.
Hormonal Fluctuations and Vision
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, such as fluctuating hormones, can lead to eye swelling, vision changes, and dry eye symptoms. A decrease in tear production is a common issue, with 80% of pregnant women experiencing it during the third trimester. Estrogen levels in the blood and corneal thickness show a correlation. During times of ovulation and at the end of the menstrual cycle, the corneal thickness is higher.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can influence LASIK surgery outcomes, making it a less suitable option during this period.
Fluid Retention and Vision
Fluid retention is another factor that can affect vision during pregnancy. Approximately 70% of pregnant women experience fluid retention, which can lead to corneal edema and modifications in corneal curvature. These changes can result in blurred vision and other visual disturbances, making pursuing better vision through LASIK surgery during pregnancy challenging.
Although most ocular changes during pregnancy are reversible and generally positive, careful monitoring and timely management are required if needed.
The Risks of LASIK Surgery During Pregnancy
A combination of factors makes LASIK surgery during pregnancy generally inadvisable. The temporary and unpredictable corneal changes, coupled with the potential risks of medications used during LASIK surgery, may endanger the unborn child.
Temporary Eye Shape Changes
Pregnancy can lead to alterations in corneal shape that may affect the accuracy of LASIK preoperative measurements and outcomes. Hormonal fluctuations can cause an accumulation of fluid in the cornea, resulting in temporary changes in its shape and consequent fluctuations in vision. These changes usually last a few months but tend to resolve within a couple of months after the baby’s birth.
Some medications used in LASIK surgery may pose risks to the fetus. The potential side effects of these medications can vary depending on the specific medication but may include:
- Respiratory depression in newborns
According to the FDA, pregnancy is a contraindication to LASIK surgery, and they advise women to delay the procedure until after pregnancy.
When Is the Best Time for LASIK Surgery?
Given the risks and uncertainties of LASIK during pregnancy, the ideal time for the procedure is either before pregnancy or after pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some doctors recommend waiting 6 months to a year after pregnancy to ensure stable eye measurements and reduce potential risks associated with hormonal fluctuations.
LASIK Before Pregnancy
Getting LASIK before pregnancy is more convenient and prevents potential vision regression and side effects during pregnancy. Also, receiving LASIK before pregnancy guarantees that the LASIK procedure is executed under ideal conditions, with stable corneal measurements and free from the effects of hormone fluctuations.
LASIK After Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Waiting until after pregnancy and breastfeeding ensures more stable eye measurements and reduces potential risks associated with hormonal fluctuations. Doctors generally suggest waiting 3-6 months or longer after breastfeeding has concluded before contemplating LASIK surgery.
Preparing for LASIK Surgery as a Pregnant or Postpartum Woman
Pregnant or postpartum women who are considering laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, should consult their eye surgeon to discuss the ideal timing and any required precautions for LASIK and pregnancy. Medical advice typically discourages LASIK surgery during pregnancy unless there is an urgent need for the procedure.
A comprehensive eye assessment may be performed to assess eye health and determine if the woman is an appropriate candidate for the surgery.
Alternatives to LASIK During Pregnancy
To manage vision changes during pregnancy, pregnant women may consider LASIK alternatives such as glasses or contact lenses for vision correction before opting for LASIK eye surgery, a common choice among LASIK patients. As women wait for their pregnancy to end, these temporary solutions can be helpful.
Refractive lens exchange (RLE) and orthokeratology (Ortho-K) are other safe alternatives that can be considered if refractive surgery, such as LASIK, is not an option during pregnancy, especially for those experiencing refractive error.
Throughout this blog post, we’ve discussed the various factors that can impact vision during pregnancy and the risks associated with undergoing LASIK surgery while pregnant. The best time for LASIK surgery is either before pregnancy or after pregnancy and breastfeeding, ensuring the most accurate measurements and the least risk to the mother and baby.
Pregnant or postpartum women considering LASIK should consult with their eye surgeon to determine the appropriate timing and any necessary precautions. While LASIK may not be an option during pregnancy, alternatives such as glasses, contact lenses, RLE, and Ortho-K can provide vision correction solutions.
In conclusion, it’s important for women to be aware of the potential risks and benefits of LASIK surgery during pregnancy and to make informed decisions about their vision correction options. By understanding the impact of pregnancy on vision and considering the best timing for LASIK surgery, women can ensure the safety and effectiveness of their vision correction journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can laser surgery affect pregnancy?
Pregnancy and breastfeeding are listed as contraindications to LASIK by the US FDA, due to potential temporary and unpredictable changes in the cornea which may result from the procedure. While the laser itself does not pose any risk, the medications used before, during, and after surgery may affect the fetus or infant.
How soon can I get pregnant after LASIK?
It is suggested to wait 2 to 6 months after your LASIK surgery to get pregnant, if possible. This allows time for the eyes to heal completely and ensures your pregnancy is free from potential risks.
Can pregnancy affect a woman’s vision?
Yes, pregnancy can affect a woman’s vision as hormonal fluctuations and fluid retention can lead to changes in corneal shape and thickness.
Why is LASIK not recommended during pregnancy?
LASIK is not recommended during pregnancy due to potential risks associated with unpredictable changes in corneal shape and medications used in the procedure.
When is the best time to undergo LASIK surgery?
The best time to undergo LASIK surgery is either before or after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
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Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.