Eye Matters
November 27, 2009
Anesthesia for Cataract Surgery

Dear readers,

Last week we discussed modern techniques for the removal of cataracts. Points to take home from last week’s discussion were as follows:

* Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgical procedures performed around the world.{{more}}

* Over 97% of patients claim a return to reliably good vision.

* Ultrasound technology (phacoemulsification) is a modern way to remove the cataract.

* In actual fact the “Lasers” used to remove cataracts (unlike those used for Lasik or Diabetic eye disease or in Glaucoma) are really ultrasound waves.

No stitch/small incision surgery has many advantages including:

* Quicker recovery

* Quicker return to normal activity

* Better vision in a matter of days instead of weeks

Today, we will look at more modern techniques for the removal of cataracts.

Topical Or No Needle Anesthesia

In the older days, cataract surgery was performed under general anesthesia. This required that patients had to stay in the hospital. Much later modern advances gravitated towards local anesthesia. This involved retrobulbar or peribulbar blocks. This is a process where a needle is inserted just behind the eyeball and an anesthetic is slowly injected behind the eye.

This procedure allows patients to return home the same day and is much safer than using general anesthesia.

More recent advances in anesthesia allow for the use of what we call topical anesthetics. The patient is giving a sedative to help them relax and keep them comfortable. Eye drops are then used to numb the eye. This is used instead of a needle injection. Topical anesthesia is usually used when the incision is in the cornea.

The advantages of topical anesthesia

* Faster

* Greater patient comfort

* Reduced patient anxiety

* Immediate visual recovery (because muscles are not paralyzed as with local anesthesia)

* Eliminates potential for postoperative headaches

* Eliminates the need for an eye patch

As you can see cataract surgery is becoming more and more modern. Next week we will discuss other modern methods for the surgical removal of cataracts, including clear corneal incisions, foldable implants and multi-focal intraocular lenses.

Have a great weekend.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: [email protected]

Tel: 784 456-1210