LASIK surgery is a common dream shared by many people who suffer from nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. This surgery, performed by an opthomologist, corrects vision using a laser to re-shape the cornea, improving visual acuity, which is the clearness and sharpness of images. LASIK surgery is a relatively safe, minimally invasive surgery that significantly improves the lives of recipients, who are usually able to discontinue the use of eyeglasses and contact lenses. However, for the woman who is pregnant or nursing a baby, there are several important factors that must be taken into consideration before choosing to go ahead with this procedure.
Physical Changes in Eyesight Due to Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time of change in a woman’s body. Some of these changes involve the eyes and eyesight. Some are only temporary, while others may be permanent. Because of fluctuations in hormone levels, many women experience changes in vision, such as new or increased levels of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. The shape and thickness of the cornea can change, and because of fluid retention, may also swell. Changes in eyesight can also be caused by the development of hypertension and diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy. Dry eyes are another common complaint. These physical changes in a pregnant woman’s body make her a poor candidate for LASIK surgery, as the correction achieved may not be right if the eyes change again after the birth of the baby.
Safety Issues During Pregnancy
There are many changes in a pregnant woman’s eyes that warrant waiting to have LASIK surgery, but there are certain safety issues as well. LASIK surgery patients are prescribed medications during and following surgery that may enter the bloodstream through mucous membranes. Many of these medications have not been tested on pregnant women, and cannot be guaranteed to be safe for the fetus. The doctor must dilate the eyes prior to surgery, and drugs are often given, such as Valium, for relaxation during the procedure. There may be antibiotics and steroid eye drops after surgery. These can all enter the bloodstream and pose potential risks to the baby. There is also a small risk of radiation from the lasers themselves. These safety concerns are red flags to any pregnant woman that this is not the best time to explore LASIK surgery.
Considerations For the Nursing Mother
It is clear that a pregnant woman should wait until after pregnancy to have LASIK surgery. However, for the nursing mother, there are concerns as well. She will experience hormonal changes even after the birth. These can have a detrimental effect on healing after surgery. Breastfeeding can also cause changes in the cornea that may not be resolved until after weaning.
There is also an increased risk of medications making their way into the breast milk. Post-operative medications, antibiotics and steroid eye drops all enter the breast milk, even in small amounts. These medications are not tested on babies, so there is no safety guarantee, and they could be potentially dangerous to the nursing infant.
It is clear that the months during pregnancy and breastfeeding are not the time to consider having LASIK surgery. The physical changes that occur in a woman’s eyes, as well as the safety hazards involved in certain types of medications will not be fully resolved until after the breastfeeding period is over. Most doctors recommend that women wait to have the procedure for approximately two to three menstrual cycles after the baby is weaned for best results. So, being patient, following doctor’s orders and waiting the proper amount of time are the right ways to ensure the best results possible from LASIK surgery.
Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions regarding LASIK surgery at (800) 398-3937.