There are many things that must be avoided or limited during pregnancy, so you may be wondering if having LASIK eye surgery is one of them.
However, just like pregnant women are told to avoid certain activities, such as soaking in a hot tub or changing a cat’s litter box, LASIK eye surgery is one activity that is best and most safely performed prior to pregnancy or following giving birth.
In this blog post, we provide you with a guide on everything you need to know regarding LASIK and pregnancy.
The relationship between fluctuating hormones while pregnant and your eyes
Hormones such as hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), estrogen, and progesterone all take on important roles in supporting the pregnancy.
Although it is well known that these hormones can cause pregnancy symptoms such as breast tenderness, nausea, and water retention, what is less frequently discussed is the impact they can have on the eyes.
Blurred vision and dry eyes are common while you are pregnant. 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, but can onset further along as well. There could also be fluctuations throughout the pregnancy. This makes your eyes somewhat unpredictable over the course of these 9 months.
Hormones and LASIK surgery
If you’re thinking about whether to get LASIK surgery while pregnant, it’s important to consider 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 during pregnancy, 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.
How is LASIK eye surgery dangerous to the fetus or infant?
Although the LASIK procedure itself does no harm to the fetus or infant, the medications that are used before, during, and after surgery may have an effect. Before LASIK, a sedative may be administered to help you relax during the procedure.
During the process, 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.
When should you undergo LASIK surgery following giving birth?
LASIK may be considered while you are pregnant 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.
Normally, a doctor would recommend discontinuing breastfeeding for 1 month before having your final measurements for surgery taken.
Under which circumstance might LASIK surgery be considered while you are pregnant?
- The patient understands that they will not be using the best antibiotics, as these are not safe for use 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 is willing to forego the use of a sedative before surgery.
- The preoperative eye examination has no concerning findings.
- The patient’s glasses prescription has not changed in the last year.
If you have questions about whether LASIK eye surgery costs or maternity expenses will be covered by your insurance provider, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. Our health insurance specialists are happy to get all your questions answered so you can make the most informed decision for you and your baby.