Subtenon’s Anesthesia

Today, many surgeries of the eye can be performed using techniques that allow your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to use injectable anesthetics to completely numb your eye before your surgical procedure rather than putting you to sleep using general anesthesia.

Subtenon’s anesthesia is the injection of a local anesthetic that completely numbs the eye. First, you are given eyedrops and jelly to numb the surface of the eye and make the injection more comfortable. Then, your ophthalmologist makes a small opening in your conjunctiva, the transparent layer containing blood vessels that surrounds the white portion of the eye, and infuses a local anaesthetic using a blunt catheter underneath a membrane (called the Tenon’s capsule) that envelops the eye. The anaesthetic travels all around your eyeball, completely numbing your eye so that you feel no pain during surgery. For some patients, this also temporarily decreases the vision in the eye as the optic nerve itself is sometimes numbed.

By using subtenons anaesthesia, 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

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This post was written by Rob Schertzer