LASIK and Patients Who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding

by: Advanced Laser | December 6, 2013

LASIK and Pregnancy/BreastfeedingAt Advanced Laser & Cataract Center Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, LASIK is an excellent option for most patients who are interested in lessening or eliminating their dependence on eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, as part of the meticulous screening process to ensure that only the most suitable candidates are advised to undergo the procedure, eye doctor John Belardo has to explain to some patients why they are precluded from having LASIK, usually for their own safety. Among the patients who are not able to undergo LASIK are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Why LASIK Cannot Be Performed on Women Who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding

One of the most important criteria for suitable LASIK candidates is that they have a stable eyeglass prescription, one that has not changed over the course of the previous year. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding often experience fluctuating vision and other changes in their vision due to hormone changes and increased pressure in their corneas as a result of fluid retention.

Because LASIK involves the removal of corneal tissue based on the flaws in the shape of the cornea – the reason behind the visual errors that require correction in the first place – it is essential that these flaws represent the actual shape of the cornea rather than an anomalous shape due to health reasons. The changes in a woman’s body when she is pregnant or nursing can result in variations in the shape of the cornea that will resolve once her hormones return to their normal state. Therefore, a woman who undergoes LASIK while pregnant or breastfeeding runs the risk of having the procedure performed according to an incorrect, temporary prescription. While a revisional procedure can be performed after the woman has given birth or ceased nursing, it is better – safer and more effective – to perform LASIK according to a stable, accurate prescription.

In any case, there are other reasons that women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid LASIK. Pregnancy already makes women more susceptible to dry eye, which is also a risk of LASIK even among good candidates for the procedure. Even if a pregnant woman is not experiencing dry eye at the time she is considering LASIK, her risk of developing the uncomfortable condition after the procedure would be higher than that of someone who is not pregnant.

Furthermore, the eye drops used to numb the eyes at the beginning of the LASIK procedure, as well as any medicated eye drops that are prescribed to ensure comfort and proper healing after the procedure, can be passed on to the fetus in utero or to a newborn via breast milk. While these drops are safe for adult patients, it is best for the health of the baby that they not be introduced into the mother’s system, especially for an elective procedure such as LASIK that can be postponed without risking the mother’s health.

For these reasons, Dr. Belardo will not perform LASIK – whether in its traditional form or the advanced bladeless LASIK procedure – on women who are pregnant or nursing.

Contact Us to Learn More

For further information on LASIK or to determine your candidacy for the procedure, please contact Advanced Laser & Cataract Center Oklahoma today.