Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
Can you tell me more about block anesthesia (pain management) for cataract surgery? Also, what are the other options that allow for cataract surgery patients to relax during the procedure? I am afraid of having something against my eye and my doctor recommended IV with block anesthesia.

Answer:
There are several options for anesthesia for cataract surgery. You mention the two most important considerations, pain prevention and anxiety reduction. Let's begin with anxiety reduction.

I am assuming that you are in good general health. Most surgeons work with anesthetists or anesthesiologists, who provide very short-acting sedatives, given intravenously, to reduce anxiety. Many of these also cause some degree of amnesia. The anesthesia staff also monitors your blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, etc. If you have specific medical problems such as diabetes, chronic respiratory problems, etc., additional precautions and medicines may be in order.

As far as literal pain prevention goes, there are several alternatives. Please note that the average patient usually cannot tell the difference because of the sedation mentioned above. Many surgeons continue to employ a local injection of an anesthetic to block pain, in a manner similar to dental local anesthesia. Other surgeons use no injections and rely on "intracameral" anesthesia, where an anesthetic solution is placed directly into the eye.

Regardless of the anesthetic choice favored by the surgeon, outcome studies have documented the fact that the vast majority of patients have painless and relaxing surgical experiences.

Answered by: Charles P. Wilkinson, MD  Dr. Charles P. Wilkinson

Categories: Cataracts, Eye Surgery

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Answered: Feb 07, 2014

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