Anesthesia for Cataract Surgery

Jan 24, 2024
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Level of Anesthesia for Cataract Surgery

If you or one of your family members is considering cataract surgery, the thought of getting surgery on your eye may be scary or overwhelming. In addition to the psychological pressure of having someone "work on your eye", some patients are scared that the surgery may be extremely painful, akin to a scratched cornea (corneal abrasion).

However, the reality is, for most patients, cataract surgery is well-tolerated. Of course, there are always exceptions, but most of my patients report back that they have minimal to no pain during the procedure. They do feel pressure, and they are aware that someone is working on their eye, but severe overt pain is actually quite rare for Dr. Golen's cataract surgery patients. Pain after the procedure is also typically mild. The most common type of pain after cataract surgery is the feeling of irritation, "foreign body sensation", or "feeling like sand is in the eye". This is the normal way the cornea feels pain after disruption of the outer layer of skin (epithelium), and typically goes away in a day or two. 

At Central Florida Ophthalmology, servicing Oviedo, Winter Springs, Winter Park, and greater Orlando, Dr. Golen works hand-in-hand with local surgery centers to personally bring the best quality care for his cataract surgery patients.

The surgery centers have anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists on staff, who carefully review the patient charts prior to eye surgery. They determine the proper level of anesthesia for each case on an individual basis. They make this determination based on a number of factors, to include the patient's age, gender, weight, respiratory function, cardiac function, current medications, and general health. 

In general, cataract surgery has two different forms of anesthesia: local anesthesia and conscious sedation.

Local anesthesia is the first type and is given by the surgeon (Dr. Golen) and by the nursing staff. This is analogous to the local anesthesia given by the dentist to fill a cavity. The nurses give "numbing" or anesthetic eye drops and sometimes "numbing" eye gel in the pre-operative area prior to the surgery. Then Dr. Golen injects more numbing medication onto and into the eye itself at the time of cataract surgery. 

The second type of anesthesia is called conscious sedation, and is given by the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist. This conscious sedation is the reason why most surgery centers require a medical clearance prior to the procedure. Conscious sedation means that you will be sedated, but not completely asleep. This is important because your cataract surgeon may need to communicate with you during the case to have you look a certain way. 

Whether you get cataract surgery from us or a different practice, we are always there for you to answer any questions regarding catarct surgery. Use the handy "Contact Us" feature to reach out to us, and we will do our best get back to you. 

Until next time,

-Dr. Jeff Golen