Getting pregnant can make you postpone a lot of things — that tattoo appointment you’ve been waiting for, a big vacation you had planned around your due date, and (as it turns out), the corrective eye surgery appointment you’ve had on your calendar for months. Is Lasik safe during pregnancy, you ask? While the procedure itself may not be directly harmful to an expecting parent or their baby, it’s not a risk doctors are willing to take.
Is Lasik safe during pregnancy?
Experts agree that Lasik is safe, and the procedure itself doesn’t pose any specific threats to pregnant patients, So, why can’t you have laser eye surgery while pregnant? Well, it’s an elective procedure, not something urgent or life-saving, and you have to keep in mind that the procedure is followed by eye drops and sometimes pain meds, but of which haven’t been widely studied on pregnant patients.
As a general rule of thumb, doctors don’t like giving expecting patients any medications — or putting them through procedures — that aren’t absolutely necessary.
“We try and schedule elective procedures outside of pregnancy. Because of the tiny risks with any procedure and with medication, we just tend to avoid them in pregnancy,” says Dr. Lynne Goltra, M.D., OB-GYN at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
“I don’t recommend doing elective surgery on pregnant women,” says Dr. Kathryn Hatch, M.D., director of the Refractive Surgery Service at Mass Eye and Ear and assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “There are no studies about doing elective procedures, that I’m aware of, on pregnant women. After surgery, we typically have to give patients eye drops, and very rarely pain meds, which aren’t necessarily a good idea for someone who’s pregnant. The medications that we’re using around surgery aren’t really studied in pregnant people.”
Ophthalmologists also discourage patients from getting Lasik during pregnancy because being pregnant can cause changes to your vision. “Sometimes vision changes during pregnancy. And when we’re doing laser vision correction, we want someone’s glasses prescription to be stable. We don't want to be operating on someone whose vision might be changing because of hormones,” says Hatch.
Is Lasik safe while breastfeeding?
As with pregnancy, the Lasik procedure itself isn’t necessarily hazardous to a breastfeeding parent. But the medications you’ll have to take before and after laser eye surgery haven’t been thoroughly studied in breastfeeding patients.
“And even in nursing moms, there are a lot of changes in hormones that can affect someone’s vision. I won’t operate on nursing moms either because their hormones are not regularized. I usually wait until nursing moms are done nursing and have three months of normal menstrual cycles. The main thing is, when you’re doing laser vision correction, we want to do the procedure when the eyes are stable,” says Hatch.
Can pregnancy ruin Lasik?
If you had Lasik before conceiving and you notice your vision is getting worse, don’t panic. Hatch says the results of Lasik can’t be undone, but again, those pregnancy hormones can alter your vision, making it a little worse (this is temporary).
“The shape of your eye often changes a little bit in pregnancy just because of fluid retention,” says Goltra. “Many women actually experience a little bit of change in their vision when they’re pregnant because of that shift in fluid.
If you had to postpone your Lasik procedure until your eyes return to normal postpartum, don’t rush to reschedule (sorry). These doctors agree that your eyes should be back to normal, along with your hormones, around six months after you give birth or stop breastfeeding.
Dr. Kathryn Hatch, M.D., director of the Refractive Surgery Service at Mass Eye and Ear and assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School
Dr. Lynne Goltra, M.D., OB-GYN at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School