It CAN Be Possible To Get Lasik While Breastfeeding
Lasik isn’t recommended during pregnancy. And there are some good reasons why lasik isn’t performed:
- The prescription of the eye can change during pregnancy. If lasik is treating an incorrect temporary prescription, then you are going to have residual prescription and some blurry vision without glasses once it returns back to normal.
- The eye can be more dry during pregnancy. Lasik will cause a short-term increase in dry eye, so any dry eye must be controlled ahead of time.
- Finally, everyone will be on some prescription eye drops after lasik. While it may very well be that the eye drops don’t harm the developing baby, are you willing to take a chance on something that is elective?
Also check out Safely, Can You Get Lasik While Pregnant?
Ok, those are all convincing reasons to postpone lasik until after the baby is born. But what about then?
While you are breastfeeding, in some ways the psychological state of pregnancy continues. This has led many to recommend waiting until completion of nursing to have lasik.
But this actually isn’t necessary for everyone. Many people don’t have to wait that long after pregnancy to get lasik. Really, as long as you your prescription was stable before, during and after pregnancy, it is possible to get lasik as soon as 2-3 months after delivery - even while breastfeeding.
How do we know all this? Well, researchers have confirmed that lasik is just as safe and effective in breastfeeding patients as it is in those who stopped nursing 3 months prior.
Here is why and how to safely have lasik while nursing.
Vision can change during pregnancy.
But its not a given.
In fact, you are more likely than not to have your vision change OUTSIDE of pregnancy rather than while pregnant. A large study looked at vision changes in pregnant individuals and actually found that they were less likely to become more nearsighted. This protection against vision changes may have in fact been due to the pregnant individuals being more active rather than due to any physiological change during pregnancy. But either way, not everyone who becomes pregnant will experience changes in vision.
Some people will though. The cornea can inconsistently change shape during pregnancy. It can get a little swelling and get thicker. This can change the shape or the way the cornea focuses light - causing changes in the prescription of the eye. Fortunately, for those that experience changes in vision, the prescription normalizes after cessation of nursing nearly 100% of the time.
If your vision changed during pregnancy, there is good reason to wait on lasik until after you finish nursing and your prescription returns to baseline.
But if you had no changes in vision during pregnancy, then this is a non-issue. Your prescription is already at baseline. Lasik would be treating the correct prescription.
The second major concern about getting lasik during pregnancy is dry eyes. During pregnancy, the eyes become more dry.
Having dry eyes is a good reason to avoid getting lasik. Lasik will increase the amount of dry eye in the short term. Within the cornea are tiny nerves that signal the production of tears. The lasik flap disrupts these tiny nerves. Until these nerves regenerate, the eye has more trouble producing tears; it dries out.
The dry eye during pregnancy can is actually caused by a variety of different changes within the body. Steadily from the first trimester to the third trimester, this dry eye can get worse.
But these changes all resolve after delivery. By six weeks postpartum, much of the dry eye from pregnancy has resolved.
Once the eyes no longer feel dry, lasik can safely be performed. This can occur as early as two to three months after the pregnancy - even while breastfeeding.
But even if your eyes don’t feel dry, it’s still a good idea to wait 2-3 months for the postpartum period to end.
Medication While Nursing
The last big concern about lasik during pregnancy is the effect of the medications used during and after lasik. When pregnant, medications can affect the growth and development of the baby.
But paying attention to what medications you take doesn’t go away after the pregnancy. While breastfeeding, it is also very important to understand what you are taking. Medication can get into the breast milk and affect the nursing infant.
Medication after lasik
Medication is unavoidable after lasik. There are a few eye drop medications that are required.
- For approximately one week out after lasik, you will be on an antibiotic eye drop to prevent infection. The most common class of antibiotics used after lasik includes eye drops such as moxifloxacin, ofloxacin and ciprofloxacin. These eye drops have very little absorption into breast milk and pose negligible risk to the nursing infant. In fact, moxifloxacin eye drops have been safely used FOR newborns and infants without any adverse effects.
- Alongside the antibiotic drop, a steroid eye drop is used to control extra inflammation. Steroid medication has very little absorption into breast milk. In addition, there have been no reports of any adverse effects of systemic steroids on nursing infants. So steroid eye drops, with their much more limited absorption, are also expected to have no adverse risk to the infant.
Luckily these eye drops have very little absorption into the body and subsequently into breast milk. But you can decrease this absorption even more!
Tears drain out of our eye and into the back of our nose (and into the rest of the body) through a tiny drain in the corner of our eyelid. Holding pressure against the this drain for the first few minutes after putting in eye drops can prevent excess medication from being absorbed into the rest of the body. While breastfeeding, this is recommended to prevent as much absorption of the eye drop as possible.
Holding pressure in this area can prevent eye drop medication from draining through the nose and into the rest of the body
Medication during lasik
There are certain medications taken before and during lasik that are also important.
- Anesthetic eye drops. These eye drops make the eye numb. It is impossible to do lasik without these eye drops. In general, locally applied anesthetics are unlikely to have any effect on the nursing infant. This also applies to commonly used numbing eye drops such as tetracaine.
- Lasik can be stressful. Because of this, relaxing medication such as Xanax is typically given to make going through the procedure easier. Unlike the eye drops, Xanax and other medications similar to it CAN get into the breast milk. This can cause drowsiness in the nursing infant.
Because of the effects of the relaxing medication on the nursing infant, the safest thing to do after lasik is to dump that breast milk affected by the medication and resume breastfeeding the following day.
Summary of medication effects
Most eye drops are generally considered safe to use while breastfeeding and the eye drops used after lasik are no exception. There is just very little absorption of the eye drop into the breast milk. For your individual situation, be sure to consult your own doctor. The National Library of Medicine also has a great online resource called LactMed to look up your own particular medications to evaluate the effect on nursing.
It isn’t always necessary to wait until finished with breastfeeding in order to have lasik. With healthy eyes, a stable prescription and knowledge of the safety of eye drops and other medications on nursing infants, you can get lasik as early as two to three months after delivery.
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