Anesthesia Options for Ocular Surgery

When you are going to have eye surgery, your Ophthalmologist will choose which type of anesthesia they will use during the procedure. There are a few ways to anesthetize the area around the eye and depending on your age and the type of procedure; your Ophthalmologist will choose the one best suited for your comfort.

Procedure Details

In our surgery center, we use “twilight” sleep sedation in addition to ocular anesthesia that reduces the need for heavy, breathing assisted sedation. This light sedation allows the Ophthalmologist to direct you to perform head movements and sometimes ask questions which you can respond to, yet feel no pain. The procedures for blocking the nerve ending surrounding the eye are described below.

Topical Anesthesia: Combinations of drops containing nerve blocking agents are instilled onto the cornea to block pain sensation. The drops are administered up to an hour or so before the procedure in order to reach maximum effect. This is the most common type of anesthesia used for cataract procedures in patients over 50. The cornea (front part of the eye) contains almost all the pain sensation for the front part of the eye and simply blocking the receptors will allow the surgeon to place incisions in the cornea so they can remove and replace the lens that is clouded.

Retrobulbar Injection: Procedures, that are more invasive to the eye, such as glaucoma, retina and muscle as well as many others will need to have the entire globe of the eye anesthetized. The anesthesiologist will use a very thin needle to reach a nerve at the back of the globe and inject anesthetic agents around the nerve. This allows the surgeon to perform more difficult surgeries without causing pain to the patient. Retrobulbar injection is more invasive and is used only when the procedure nessecitates.

When discussing the need for surgery with your Ophthalmologist or their clinic staff be sure to ask what type of anesthesia is going to be used and if it is the most minimally necessary for the procedure you are going to have. Our staff either in the office or at the surgery center will be happy to discuss any questions you may have about anesthesia services. The surgery center uses contracted anesthesiologists that have many years of experience and have performed thousands of successful anesthesia procedures.


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