Can You Have LASIK if You’re Pregnant?
Pregnancy is a time of change, not just for your body, but for the eyes too. Is LASIK safe during pregnancy? Is it best to wait for your refractive eye surgery until after baby arrives? Learn about pregnancy’s impact on vision and how LASIK surgery fits in.
Pregnancy and the Eyes
No need to question your sanity if your vision starts to get a little fuzzy during pregnancy. Vision changes are a common and well-known symptom of pregnancy. One reason for vision changes is fluid retention. Hormones cause the body to retain more water, thus the bloating, puffiness, and swelling of pregnancy. Fluid retention can also happen within or behind the eyes, slightly changing the shape of the cornea, and modifying how light passes through the eye. This change in shape leads to a change in vision.
Pregnancy causes dry eyes, usually due to a decrease in tear production. Many women struggle with wearing contact lenses during pregnancy and revert to using eyeglasses. Pregnancy also causes light sensitivity in some women. Sunglasses can help.
If you have glaucoma, diabetes, or other health conditions that affect the eyes, talk to your doctor. Pregnancy can worsen the symptoms of these and other conditions. Regular visits with your eye care professional are recommended throughout pregnancy and after delivery.
When Pregnancy Vision Changes Indicate a Problem
Distorted or fuzzy vision during pregnancy isn’t usually a problem. Most women will return to their pre-pregnancy eyesight shortly after delivery. Some vision changes can indicate a more serious problem. Here’s what to watch for:
- Temporary vision loss
- Blurry vision
- Seeing flashing lights, spots, auras, or other visual distortions
- Light sensitivity
These symptoms could be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy that can cause death if left untreated. Let your doctor know about all vision changes, and if you experience a dramatic shift or vision loss, emergency medical care may be needed.
Why We Don’t Recommend LASIK During Pregnancy
Changes to the cornea’s shape are one of the biggest causes of pregnancy related vision problems. Interestingly, LASIK surgery also changes the cornea’s shape. While pregnancy causes the cornea to become misshapen, LASIK smooths and rounds it to restore clearer vision.
Let’s think of the eye as a ball. Ideally, the eye is round, shaped like a baseball. A rounded eye allows light to pass through and reflect without error, creating a clear picture. Round is ideal, but if you wear glasses or contacts, your eye is probably shaped more like a football. The way your brain interprets vision relies on an a perfectly rounded eye, so when the shape is off, so is the vision. We call these vision distortions refractive errors.
LASIK changes the shape of the cornea, rounding off the front of the eye, and restoring that ideal baseball-like shape.
Things get tricky during pregnancy though. The extra fluid in the eyes has changed their shape. We could perform LASIK and create a rounded eye, but after pregnancy, the eye will change again, as fluid dissipates and the eye reverts to its usual shape. If we alter the eye during pregnancy, your vision may be negatively affected after pregnancy. LASIK is best suited for permanent vision changes, on patients with stable vision. Pregnancy is a time of change and not ideal for eye surgery.
There is also the issue of the medications used during and after LASIK surgery. Developing fetuses are so sensitive. Due to the risk of birth defects, many medications aren’t tested on pregnant women, and the effects of these medications on a growing baby are often unknown. During pregnancy it is best to play it safe and avoid medications that aren’t necessary, including the medications used for LASIK surgery.
If you’re pregnant, LASIK can wait. Wear glasses or contacts during your pregnancy and then contact us after baby is born to learn more about LASIK surgery in the Pacific Northwest.