Can Women Undergo LASIK While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

Posted on November 20, 2017

By: Stanley Teplick, M.D.

If you are interested in LASIK surgery, you may have read that women who are trying to get pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding are not suitable candidates for LASIK surgery. But you may not know why LASIK surgery is not a good idea for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is important for women to understand the possible risks for the baby and why they may not achieve the best results if they undergo LASIK surgery while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Change in Vision Prescription

Due to hormone fluctuations that occur during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, a woman’s vision prescription may change. It is believed that the hormone changes cause a swelling of the lens, which can alter the patient’s degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The hormone changes that occur start in the early stages of pregnancy and continue until a couple of months after breastfeeding has ceased. To achieve the best possible vision correction results, patients should undergo LASIK surgery before they get pregnant, or two to six months after breastfeeding has stopped.

Medication Use

During LASIK surgery, several medications are used on patients. These include:

  • A sedative: Patients are given a mild sedative, such as Valium, prior to surgery to relieve anxiety during surgery and encourage patients to nap immediately after surgery. Pregnant women should not take these medications, as they may pose a risk to the baby.
  • Eye drops: Prior to LASIK surgery, dilating and numbing eye drops are applied to the eyes. After LASIK surgery, patients will regularly apply antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection and steroidal eye drops to reduce inflammation. Though the effects of these medications on pregnant women are not known, they will enter the patient’s blood stream and have the potential to cause harm, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy when the fetus is forming vital organs.
  • Painkillers: Certain over-the-counter pain medications are not safe for use in pregnant women, including ibuprofen.

Dry Eyes

As a result of the hormone changes that occur during pregnancy, many women experience dry eye during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Indeed, many pregnant report discomfort wearing contact lenses while pregnant.

Patients with dry eye before surgery are not ideal candidates for LASIK surgery. The treatment is associated with temporary dry eye as a side effect, so patients should have normal tear production prior to surgery. When patients have dry eye prior to surgery, it could inhibit healing.

Limited Radiation Exposure

During LASIK surgery, patients are exposed to very low levels of radiation. This limited radiation exposure occurs when the laser is creating the corneal incisions and while reshaping the cornea. The period of exposure lasts for just a few minutes. Despite the low amount of radiation exposure, pregnant women should avoid any unnecessary risks to the baby.

Learn More About Laser Vision Correction

For more information about LASIK surgery, be sure to fill out the “Book an Appointment” button to schedule a free LASIK consultation.

If you’re in the Portland area, our entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve the best possible results!

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