If you are a woman considering laser vision correction, you may have heard that women experience more complications from LASIK than men, and are less likely to have a satisfactory outcome. The truth is, most women are very satisfied with their LASIK outcome, but they can have unique risk factors that need to be considered when choosing LASIK. These factors may affect the timing of your surgery or may mean that you need an alternative procedure.
The unique risks that women can face with LASIK are associated with hormonal changes. These changes include:
Birth control drugs
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormonal changes can cause dry eye, which increases the chance of complications from LASIK. At the same time, dry eye can be caused by LASIK. Chronic dry eye can cause vision problems.
Hormonal changes can also cause changes to your vision by changing the shape of your cornea. Undergoing LASIK when you are experiencing hormonal fluctuations, such as during pregnancy, can result in poor vision when your eyes go back to their normal shape.
Timing is Everything for Women Considering LASIK
In order to be a good candidate for LASIK, your vision must be stable. This generally means having the same prescription for at least twelve months. Hormonal changes can cause changes in vision in women whose vision has been stable for years, so you also need to plan for any anticipated changes.
LASIK is not appropriate during pregnancy, and should be avoided for six months before and after pregnancy.
You can have LASIK safely while taking birth control medication. However, you should avoid LASIK if you have just started using birth control pills, are planning to stop taking them within the next few months, or have recently changed the type or dose of birth control medication you use.
If you are using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), your risk is higher than with birth control medication. The same general considerations apply, as far as timing and changing your medication or dose.
Dry eye is a very common problem in women. It is even more common if you are post-menopausal or using HRT. In fact, studies have found that the higher regression rates in LASIK patients using HRT are due to dry eye syndrome.
If you have dry eye syndrome, you may still be a candidate for LASIK. Dry eye can be treated, and it must be treated before undergoing LASIK. In some cases an alternative such as Epi-LASIK or PRK may be recommended for women who are not ideal candidates for LASIK.