Why Laser Eye Surgery Should be Put on Hold During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
If you’ve ever been pregnant, then you know that the hormonal increases in estrogen and progesterone can effect any and every part of your body at any given time. If you haven’t and are planning a pregnancy or currently pregnant, then you are about to embark on ~40 weeks of feeling ‘not quite yourself!’ But did you know that blurred vision and other eye related issues might crop up? These changes mean that laser eye surgery during the time of pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended.
Swelling of the Cornea
The body produces approximately 50% more blood and body fluids during pregnancy meaning that swelling is very common for almost all women. We presume the face, hands, feet, ankles and legs will be the main places effected. What we don’t often know is that our cornea (the clear window across the front of the eyes) also becomes susceptible to fluid retention making it thicker and possibly altering the curvature. An increase in the fluid pressure inside of the eye can also cause blurred vision.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, then the increase in hormones can remain; meaning that the vision changes can also remain. Laser eye surgery is not recommended during this time. Most Ophthalmologists recommend waiting until 3 months after having your baby or 3 months after the completion of breastfeeding. Even if you have not experienced any fluctuations in your vision, it is still best to wait.
Pregnancy can also effect the physiology of the tear film which is the very thin smooth liquid outer layer across the surface of the eye. The tear film’s job is to keep our eyes lubricated and to reduce the friction caused by eyelid movements (such as blinking) over the surface of the cornea. When this is unstable or unable to do it’s job effectively for a reason such as pregnancy, it leads to dry eyes. Dry eyes is another reason to put laser eye surgery on hold as the surgery itself, induces dryness of the eyes and should not be further exacerbated.
Diabetic Retinopathy (if you are already diabetic)
If you happen to already be diabetic, pregnancy can accelerate the onset of diabetic retinopathy. This is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye (retina). Poorly controlled blood sugar is a risk factor. Early symptoms include floaters, blurriness, dark areas of vision and difficulty perceiving colours.
Ptosis (droopy eyelids)
Droopy eyelids and or eyebrows have been reported during pregnancy and following normal delivery. This is another possible side effect that women can fall victim to during pregnancy due to the increase in fluid and hormonal effects. The good news? It almost always resolves postpartum.
Recommendation to Wait
To summarise, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding… wait! Dr Furness at Insight Eye Clinic suggests waiting until you have had 3 normal cycles following the birth of your child or the completion of breastfeeding. If you are unsure of this recommendation or would like clarification, we welcome you to contact us on 08 9440 4033.
**Please note this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concern about your vision quality or eye health, we urge you to contact your GP or Ophthalmologist**