Is LASIK Eye Surgery Safe When Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
There are many things women have to avoid or limit while expecting, so you may be wondering if undergoing LASIK eye surgery is safe while pregnant or breastfeeding. But just like pregnant women are told to avoid certain activities, such as soaking in a hot tub or changing a cat’s litter box, laser eye surgery is one activity that is best and most safely performed before pregnancy or after giving birth. Below, we discuss the reasons why pregnant and breastfeeding women aren’t advised to have LASIK eye surgery, and when is the best time for postpartum mothers to undergo a vision correction procedure.
Is LASIK Eye Surgery Recommended in Pregnancy?
In short, the answer is no. Undergoing LASIK eye surgery while pregnant isn’t advisable because it can result in incorrect changes to your cornea.
Pregnancy is a time when the body is undergoing a variety of hormonal and physical changes. In fact, as the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) explains, some women experience variations in their vision while expecting due to these changes, which can alter your glasses or contact lens prescription.
Vision problems are often the result of an error in how our eyes refract light. LASIK eye surgery works by reshaping the cornea to correct the refraction. Prior to the procedure, we use advanced diagnostic technology and a variety of pre-operative tests to measure the thickness and shape of your cornea, which allows our team to create a pre-specified pattern that determines what shape the cornea must take to correct the refractive errors.
However, during pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause the cornea to change shape, which is why prescriptions can change. Specifically, the thickness and curvature of the cornea can increase due to the hormones, WebMD notes. Sometimes these changes are temporary, and your vision returns to what it was previously post-pregnancy. But there are other times in which these changes are permanent.
The fact that the cornea’s shape can change during pregnancy is what creates a problem for LASIK. If LASIK eye surgery is performed but then the patient’s prescription changes during or after pregnancy (or even while breastfeeding), then the surgery could be rendered ineffective. It will likely require additional surgical correction in order to fix the new refractive error. As such, it’s recommended to wait until after pregnancy to undergo LASIK eye surgery.
When Is It Safe to Get Pregnant After LASIK Eye Surgery?
Since LASIK eye surgery isn’t recommended during pregnancy, it’s best to get it before or after pregnancy. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), while it’s safe to become pregnant at any time following your laser vison correction procedure, they recommend waiting at least one month post-procedure, at which time you should be fully healed.
The AAO adds that pregnant women should be aware that dry eye is a common side effect of pregnancy as well as LASIK eye surgery.
Is LASIK Eye Surgery Safe When Postpartum or Breastfeeding?
Even after you’ve given birth, you may not be in the clear to undergo LASIK eye surgery, particularly if you’re breastfeeding. To be fair, not as much research has been conducted on the safety of LASIK eye surgery when breastfeeding in comparison to what’s been done on the impact of laser eye surgery during pregnancy. However, the research that does exist seems to suggest that LASIK eye surgery is safest and most effective when done after breastfeeding has ceased.
For example, a study published in Ophthalmology and Therapy in 2019 found that lactation can result in hormonal changes that affect the corneal structure, just as it does in pregnancy. The researchers concluded that LASIK eye surgery should not be performed on postpartum women until certain conditions are met.
These conditions include:
- Cessation of lactation
- Return of regular menses
- Return to pre-pregnancy refraction
Even still, the researchers note that women who plan to become pregnant in the year following their LASIK eye surgery should consider postponing the procedure, as the pregnancy may cause refractive regression, which can impact the post-operative results of the laser eye surgery.
In order to determine when it’s safe to undergo LASIK eye surgery following a pregnancy, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare professional. They’ll be able to evaluate your specific case and recommend the best course of action based on a variety of factors, including whether you’re breastfeeding or if you plan to become pregnant in the future and how soon.
Additionally, our team of experts at LASIK MD is also happy to answer any questions you may have about pregnancy, laser eye surgery, or anything in between. To learn if LASIK eye surgery or another vision correction procedure is right for you, book a free, no-obligation consultation today.