Anaesthesia for Eye Surgery

The most common operation done on eyes these days is cataract surgery (taking out your lens because it has become opaque) and then implanting an artificial lens. This is usually done under a local anaesthetic block.

There are several methods of performing this block using a combination of anaesthetic drops and injections around and behind the eye. Sedation is sometimes used with some of these techniques.

During the operation, your anaesthetist will monitor your cardiograph (ECG), blood pressure and oxygenation. You will be given extra oxygen under the soft drapes that cover your face and body while you are lying on the operating table. It is necessary for you to lie quietly and stay as still as possible during these delicate operations.

A full general anaesthetic (where you are completely asleep) is very rarely required for cataract surgery but it is common with other eye operations such as retinal surgery or surgery for eye injuries.

As with most operations, it is important to take blood pressure medications at your usual time before an operation, even if you are supposed to be fasting. If you are supposed to be fasting when they are due to be taken, try taking them with just a small sip of water. You should discuss with your anaesthetist (before the day of surgery) whether you should take any other medications that you normally do because there are some medications that possibly should not be taken before an eye operation. Depending on the type of local anaesthetic block to be used, drugs like Warfarin and Aspirin may have to be ceased several days beforehand.

Pain after cataract surgery is usually only minor and can be treated well by simple pain-killers such as Panadol or Panadeine. If the pain is worse than what these drugs can treat then you should let your eye surgeon know so he or she can determine if any problem exists.

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