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What Special Considerations Should Women Make When Deciding On LASIK?

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Are most women good candidates for LASIK surgery? The short answer to that question is "of course!", but the long answer is a little more complicated. Women who are thinking about LASIK surgery need to take a few more circumstances into consideration. What things do women need to consider before deciding to move forward with LASIK surgery, and why do they impact women but not men? The answers to those questions may surprise you.

Consideration #1: Age

Age is a factor for both men and women in deciding on LASIK surgery. The eye is an ever changing organ, and the level of vision correction necessary for each individual is rarely stable before adulthood. For women, age is doubly of concern. Not only could an unstable prescription cause LASIK to be ineffective for very young women, but with most of their childbearing years ahead of them, hormonal fluctuations, which are sometimes more pronounced in early adulthood and in perimenopause, could complicate the procedure and the results.

Perimenopausal women may find that their vision varies with hormonal changes, but stabilizes after they complete menopause. Very young women sometimes have irregular periods and experience vision changes with their menstrual cycles, but may find that their hormonal levels stabilize as they grow older, or after their first pregnancy. Which brings up the next topic...

Consideration #2: Family Plans

No matter your age, discussing your family plans with your LASIK surgeon is a must. Most surgeons will ask you to disclose this information, so that they can make sure you're getting the best treatment possible.

Having LASIK surgery immediately before or during pregnancy can complicate the healing process, and negatively impact the results of your surgery. Additionally, breastfeeding may also impact the outcome of your surgery. For these reasons, LASIK surgeons generally recommend a woman not have corrective eye surgery within three months of becoming pregnant, during her pregnancy, or for three months after she has stopped breastfeeding. With the World Health Organization recommending at least 2 years of breastfeeding for each child, a woman with a large family planned could be facing putting off LASIK surgery for many years.

Consideration # 3: Contraception Choices

If you choose to rely on a hormonal method of birth control, pay close attention to your vision as you begin and end the medication. Hormonal methods of contraception include:

  • Combined oral contraceptives, which are pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone hormones
  • Progestin only oral contraceptives, also called the "mini pill", which contain progesterone but not estrogen
  • Birth control patches
  • Vaginal birth control rings
  • The Mirena IUC
  • The birth control implant called Implanon

If you are planning on starting or stopping a hormonal method of birth control shortly before or after your surgery, talk to your doctor to make sure your vision prescription remains stable. The hormones in the above birth control options, like those created naturally during your menstrual cycle and during pregnancy or breastfeeding, can cause the shape and thickness of your cornea to change. This may make contacts uncomfortable, or may entirely change your prescription, making it difficult to customize your LASIK surgery for the best results.Men have more stable hormonal systems than women, and so they don't need to consider these things. Just another perk of being female.

LASIK surgery can dramatically improve your quality of life. No more fiddling with contacts every day, or worrying about keeping your glasses by your nightstand for midnight trips to the loo. For women, the timing of LASIK surgery is critical to achieving the best results, so it will be imperative for you to discuss your family plans, birth control choices, and you experiences with vision changes during hormonal fluctuations with your eye doctor and LASIK surgeon. Taking the time to do so will keep your sight crystal clear for years to come.