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LASIK and Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

By Marta Manning
Medically Reviewed by Sheri Rowen, MD, and member of the Refractive Surgery Council editorial advisory board on December 17, 2020
Learn why holding off on LASIK eye surgery until after your pregnancy is a good idea.

Pregnancy forces you to make various health and lifestyle changes, from quitting smoking to watching your diet to taking a break from contact sports. Doctors will also tell you to avoid certain medications and procedures during pregnancy to ensure the best outcome for you and your baby. LASIK vision surgery falls in this category.

During the LASIK procedure, a specialist surgeon uses a precision laser to change the shape of your cornea, the clear front layer of your eye. The surgery can treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says. In order for you to qualify for LASIK, your corneas have to be stable and unaffected by medications and health conditions.

Can You Get LASIK While Pregnant?

Getting LASIK surgery while pregnant is not advisable, and it could lead to incorrect changes to your corneas, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says. Because the thickness and curvature of your corneas can increase due to hormonal changes in pregnancy, vision correction could be inaccurate. This can cause vision problems once the hormones go back to normal, resulting in the need for additional eye surgery.

“Most eye doctors recommend having laser vision correction either before pregnancy or waiting until after delivery of your baby,” ophthalmologist Gregory Parkhurst, MD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “While these temporary vision fluctuations are rarely considerable (I mean, no one has ever heard of ‘maternity glasses’ have they?), laser vision correction is designed to last you for many years to come, and your doctor will want to treat your baseline, permanent eye prescription, not your slightly altered pregnancy one.“

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, common pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia can cause leaking blood vessels in the eyes and blurred vision, which could complicate eye surgery. The FDA recommends waiting until after pregnancy is over to get LASIK surgery so that your vision becomes more stable.

The medications you’ll need to use in the days after you get LASIK, like antibiotic and steroid drops, could be unsafe for a developing fetus. Even though only small amounts of the drugs absorb through the eyes, “it is safer not to expose the baby to any medications during pregnancy,” says San Antonio Eye Specialists medical director Nader Iskander, MD, FACS.

Can Pregnancy Affect Your LASIK Results?

Although pregnancy hormones can cause temporary vision changes in women who received LASIK before getting pregnant, vision usually returns to post-LASIK levels after the hormones stabilize. A 2020 study of LASIK recipients published in the Journal of Refractive Surgery found no meaningful changes in the eye's ability to bend and focus light, or in the cornea's stability and thickness, a year after pregnancy.

“It is important to note that eye prescriptions almost always return to their pre-pregnancy state after delivery,” says Parkhurst. “So you don't have to wait until you're finished having babies; it is okay to have laser vision correction now, just not while you're actually pregnant.”