Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
How does pregnancy affect LASIK?    

Answer:
LASIK is generally not advisable in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Research has shown that glasses and contact prescriptions often change during pregnancy. Similar changes occur during breastfeeding as well. In some cases, these changes may be temporary but in others they can be permanent. Unfortunately there is no way to distinguish which cases are temporary. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, although it has been shown that changes in the corneal thickness and curvature occur, possibly due to swelling. Some have postulated that the same hormonal changes which allow for bodily changes to accommodate for growth of the baby within the woman's body also allow for growth of the eye as well, leading to a change in prescription. If LASIK is performed and the prescription changes back after pregnancy or breastfeeding, the correction will no longer be appropriate and additional surgical correction will be needed.

Another concern in pregnancy and breastfeeding is the risk for the development or worsening of diabetes and other medical problems that can affect the health of the eyes. Additionally, pregnancy can cause significant blood pressure problems such as preeclampsia. These blood pressure- or diabetes-related problems can manifest in the eye. Patients can potentially present with bleeding or leaking blood vessels which can cause distortion of vision. Any changes of these kinds need to be handled very carefully to prevent long term damage to the eyes. These conditions can lead to an acute medical or surgical situation and the patient would definitely be precluded from having LASIK eye surgery. Other rare pregnancy related eye disorders can occur that induce swelling of the optic nerve or retina and can also be detected with a complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist.

Answered by: W. Barry Lee, MDDr. W. Barry Lee

Categories: Vision Correction

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Answered: Aug 28, 2012

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