17 doctors weighed in:
What kind of anesthesia do get for eye surgery?
17 doctors weighed in

Dr. Stephen Khachikian
Ophthalmology
4 doctors agree
In brief: It depends
This depends on the type of surgery.
Many eye surgeries such as lasik and cataract surgery only use topical drops for anesthesia. Sometimes the topical drops are supplemented with mild sedation from IV medication or oral sedatives. Other eye surgeries such as retinal surgeries will have a local anesthesia with an injection around the eye. In rare cases we will use general anesthesia.

In brief: It depends
This depends on the type of surgery.
Many eye surgeries such as lasik and cataract surgery only use topical drops for anesthesia. Sometimes the topical drops are supplemented with mild sedation from IV medication or oral sedatives. Other eye surgeries such as retinal surgeries will have a local anesthesia with an injection around the eye. In rare cases we will use general anesthesia.
Dr. Stephen Khachikian
Dr. Stephen Khachikian
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Dr. Beth Friedland
Ophthalmology
3 doctors agree
In brief: Topical, sedation
Usually topical drops, and anesthetic inside the eye at the time of surgery are all that is needed.
If a patient is anxious, I.V. Sedation is administered by a nurse anesthetist or ansethesiologist. In extreme cases, where the patient cannot lay still for surgery or for infants and children, general anesthesia is used.

In brief: Topical, sedation
Usually topical drops, and anesthetic inside the eye at the time of surgery are all that is needed.
If a patient is anxious, I.V. Sedation is administered by a nurse anesthetist or ansethesiologist. In extreme cases, where the patient cannot lay still for surgery or for infants and children, general anesthesia is used.
Dr. Beth Friedland
Dr. Beth Friedland
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Dr. Karen Sibert
Anesthesiology
3 doctors agree
In brief: It varies!
In many cases, the ophthalmologist will use drops to numb the eye, and the patient will receive sedation with drugs such as Midazolam and fentanyl.
If a needle is used to give local anesthesia (retrobulbar block), the anesthesiologist may use Propofol to provide a brief period of sleep while the block goes in. For major eye surgeries, general anesthesia is necessary sometimes.

In brief: It varies!
In many cases, the ophthalmologist will use drops to numb the eye, and the patient will receive sedation with drugs such as Midazolam and fentanyl.
If a needle is used to give local anesthesia (retrobulbar block), the anesthesiologist may use Propofol to provide a brief period of sleep while the block goes in. For major eye surgeries, general anesthesia is necessary sometimes.
Dr. Karen Sibert
Dr. Karen Sibert
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Dr. Jeffrey Whitman
Ophthalmology
2 doctors agree
In brief: Topical or local
Eye drops to numb the eye can be used as well as local blocks around the eye are typical.
You will feel some pressure during the surgery with topical drops and should feel nothing with local blocks.

In brief: Topical or local
Eye drops to numb the eye can be used as well as local blocks around the eye are typical.
You will feel some pressure during the surgery with topical drops and should feel nothing with local blocks.
Dr. Jeffrey Whitman
Dr. Jeffrey Whitman
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Dr. Gary Wortz
Ophthalmology
2 doctors agree
In brief: Drops and versed
Retrobulbar blocks are still popular among many surgeons, however most of my patients receive topical anesthetic drops and some IV sedation with versed.
This is becoming a preferred practice for many physicians, though i would never argue with a physician who felt a retrobulbar block was needed.

In brief: Drops and versed
Retrobulbar blocks are still popular among many surgeons, however most of my patients receive topical anesthetic drops and some IV sedation with versed.
This is becoming a preferred practice for many physicians, though i would never argue with a physician who felt a retrobulbar block was needed.
Dr. Gary Wortz
Dr. Gary Wortz
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Dr. John Stork
Anesthesiology
2 doctors agree
In brief: Retrobulbar block
A retrobulbar block, where local anesthesia is injected behind the eye is a possibility.
Some sedation is also usually given.

In brief: Retrobulbar block
A retrobulbar block, where local anesthesia is injected behind the eye is a possibility.
Some sedation is also usually given.
Dr. John Stork
Dr. John Stork
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Dr. Andrew Shatz
Ophthalmology
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Depends on...
... The surgery.
If you are talking about cataract/lens surgery, mild I.V. Sedation ("twilight") with topical anesthetic eye drops are all that is necessary. For laser vision correction, there is usually topical anesthetic as well as occasional oral sedatives (valium, ativan, (lorazepam) xanax).

In brief: Depends on...
... The surgery.
If you are talking about cataract/lens surgery, mild I.V. Sedation ("twilight") with topical anesthetic eye drops are all that is necessary. For laser vision correction, there is usually topical anesthetic as well as occasional oral sedatives (valium, ativan, (lorazepam) xanax).
Dr. Andrew Shatz
Dr. Andrew Shatz
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Dr. Richard Pollard
Anesthesiology
In brief: See below
For cataracts and the like they would use a topical anesthetic on the eye with some IV sedation.
For more extensive surgery on the eye they might use a general anesthetic. Talk to your ophthalmologist to see what they expect and need.

In brief: See below
For cataracts and the like they would use a topical anesthetic on the eye with some IV sedation.
For more extensive surgery on the eye they might use a general anesthetic. Talk to your ophthalmologist to see what they expect and need.
Dr. Richard Pollard
Dr. Richard Pollard
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Dr. Christopher Hood
Ophthalmology
In brief: Varies
For some surgeries, like cataract, topical anesthesia (drops and ointments on the eye) can be used with a little IV sedation.
Alternatively, or for more complex surgeries, an injection can be given behind the eye to numb and paralyze it.

In brief: Varies
For some surgeries, like cataract, topical anesthesia (drops and ointments on the eye) can be used with a little IV sedation.
Alternatively, or for more complex surgeries, an injection can be given behind the eye to numb and paralyze it.
Dr. Christopher Hood
Dr. Christopher Hood
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