You’re pregnant! What an exciting time. As you plan for a new child, you may be trying to think of means to simplify your life. And there’s no better way to do so than to get rid of your glasses and contact lenses! But then you wonder – what do eye care professionals have to say about LASIK and pregnancy? With so many restrictions during this time, is refractive surgery even an option? This article will go over all the details.
Your Eyes During Pregnancy
Along with pregnancy come fluctuating hormones. Hormones such as hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), estrogen, and progesterone all take on important roles in supporting the pregnancy. While it is well known that these hormones can cause pregnancy symptoms such as breast tenderness, nausea, and water retention, what is less often talked about is the effect they can have on the eyes. Blurred vision and dry eyes are common during pregnancy. Fluid dynamics can change too, causing fluctuations in corneal shape. There is also the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension, which can have adverse effects on the eyes.
These changes can happen as early as the first trimester, or they could onset later on. There could also be fluctuations throughout the pregnancy. This makes your eyes somewhat unpredictable over the course of these 9 months
Should Hormones Be Considered When Deciding to Have LASIK Surgery?
If you’re considering LASIK surgery during pregnancy, it’s important to think about the effect that hormones could have on the outcome. That’s because crucial ocular measurements could be impacted by hormonal changes in pregnancy.
Specifically, the curvature of the cornea is an important factor in determining the optimal refractive correction. When light hits the eye, it is focused by the cornea, the clear tissue at the front of the eye. It’s then directed toward the retina, the tissue in the back of the eye. Several factors contribute to refractive error like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism, but one such influence is the curvature of the cornea. If your cornea causes light to focus in front of the retina, you’re said to be nearsighted. If it focuses behind the retina, you’re farsighted.
When considering LASIK surgery while pregnant, the corneal changes affecting how nearsighted or farsighted you create uncertainty in preoperative measurements.
Pregnancy could also affect your corneal thickness, due to changing levels of fluid retention. Corneal thickness is an important preoperative measurement for LASIK, as thin corneas can make the procedure unsafe.
What Is the Danger to the Fetus or Infant During LASIK Eye Surgery?
While the laser procedure itself doesn’t cause harm to the fetus or infant, the medications that are used before, during, and after surgery may have an impact. Prior to LASIK, a sedative may be administered to help you relax during the procedure. During the procedure, anesthetic eye drops will be used to numb the eyes. After surgery, antibiotics and steroid eye drops are commonly prescribed. Patients are also given oral pain medication to help minimize any post-operative discomfort.
The effects of these drugs on an unborn child, or an infant in the case of a nursing mother, are largely unknown. Therefore, it is safest for pregnant women to avoid taking these medications unless necessary.
How Long After Pregnancy Is It Better to Do LASIK?
LASIK may be considered during pregnancy by some ophthalmologists. However, most eye surgeons will recommend that women wait until one of three milestones before pursuing refractive surgery: the baby is born, the woman has had a menstrual period, or breastfeeding has ceased. Different doctors will have differing opinions on the earliest suitable landmark. If a woman is breastfeeding, not only do hormonal fluctuations continue, but there is concern that the medications she takes could impact the nursing baby. We typically recommend discontinuing breastfeeding for 1 month before having your final measurements for surgery taken.
When LASIK May Be Considered During Pregnancy
- The patient has discussed the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing LASIK during pregnancy with her surgeon and has sound reasoning for proceeding.
- The patient’s glasses prescription has not changed in the last year.
- The preoperative eye examination has no concerning findings.
- The patient is willing to forego the use of a sedative before surgery.
- The patient understands that she will not be using the best antibiotics, as these are not safe for use during pregnancy.
If you still have questions about LASIK during pregnancy, please contact us at Kraff Eye Institute to discuss your situation in more detail. We’ll make sure to get all your questions answered so you can make the most informed decision for you and your baby.