Although many surgeries of the eye are performed using topical anaesthesia techniques, sometimes this is supplemented with injectable anesthetics to completely numb your eye before your surgical procedure. This helps avoid putting you to sleep using general anaesthesia with its increased risks.
Subconjunctival anesthesia is the injection of a local anesthetic under the conjunctiva – the outer vascularized layer that covers the white of your eye. First, your ophthalmologist may provide you with a mild sedative through an IV before surgery and also instill drops or jelly to make the injection more comfortable. Then, the ophthalmologist inserts a needle beneath your conjunctiva, and injects a local anesthetic. This completely numbs your eye so that you will feel no pain during surgery. It also partially immobilizes your eye so that your ophthalmologist can perform your surgery quickly and easily. This is used when surgery will involve the conjunctiva such as for glaucoma procedures but cataract surgery usually does not require any injectable anaesthetic agents.
By using subconjunctival anesthesia, your ophthalmologist ensures that you are as comfortable as possible during surgery. Since you will not be put to sleep using general anesthesia, your recovery time after surgery will be much quicker, and you will be able to go home the same day.
(c) 2009 Robert M Schertzer, MD, MEd, FRCSC based on 2007 The American Academy of Ophthalmology
This post was written by Rob Schertzer