Numbing the Eye

With modern surgical techniques, cataract surgery is quite painless and without stitches. The process begins with the dilation of the eyes.

Dilation: In this process, dilating drops are instilled to enlarge the pupil and expose the cataract. Once the eye is dilated, it blurs your vision for some time thereafter it restores back to normal.

After dilation, the eyes are numbed to begin the surgical process.

Before numbing:

Before the surgery, a patch test is done to determine any sensitivity or allergy to the anesthetic agent being used.

 What is numbing the eye?

Numbing is the process in which pain is eliminated in the eye before the surgery by anesthetizing the eye with the use of anesthetics. It could be in the form or topical eye drops, ointments or injections.

In the earlier days numbing was done by general anesthesia. This further progressed to injection behind the eyeball. Nowadays most common method of numbing in a cataract surgery is by using topical anesthetic eye drops in most of all cases. In certain cases anesthetic injection is given if essential. Numbing may sting for a few seconds. Only the eye would be numb and you would be awake during the entire surgery. After the eye is numb, an eyelid holder is placed on the affected eye to prevent blinking during the surgical period. If the cataract surgery is under general anesthesia (as in case for children) overnight fasting as instructed to be followed.

Advantages of Numbing through Topical anesthetic eye drops:

  • Easy to administer
  • For Painless surgery
  • Facilitates stillness during surgery and minimizes discomfort.
  • Block the pain signals at the nerve ending in our eyes, thus enabling us to withstand pain without realizing it.
  • Quick recovery
  • Eliminates risk and side effects associated with injection.

What to expect when your eyes are numbed?

The eyes are kept open during the entire surgery with the help of an eye lid holder. This does not hurt, but feels like a gentle stretching of the eyelids. The numbing eye drops take away the sensation of wanting to close the eyes or the blink reflex. Hence, it is quite comfortable to keep the eyes open without feeling the urge to blink, though the surgery.

Ensure that you are still and refrain from any head movement for successful instillation of the topical anesthetic eye drops. In case you have cough or other illnesses that could cause movement during surgery need to be intimated. If fasting is advised or restriction to a particular food is advised, kindly follow as instructed. After initial stinging sensation you begin to face painlessness and lack of sensation till the numbing effect wanes off. Topical anesthetic eye drops are administered in the affected eye as per the requirement. Some medicines may interact with certain topical anesthetic eye drops. The cataract surgery is performed under a close observation on your vitals with an anesthetist stand by for additional support if needed.

Do inform our anesthetist for any of the below conditions.

  • General Health reasons: In case of any health problems, infectious diseases, past operations, serious illnesses.
  • Dental conditions: False teeth, caps, loose teeth or other dental   problems.
  • Any medical problems needing regular treatment.
  • In case of intake of any herbal/ayurvedic medicines.
  • Allergies or intolerances of any type especially to medicines.

Am I a candidate for Topical anesthetic eye drops?

Those who suffer from chronic pain and alcoholics may have varied doses for Topical anesthetic eye drops and in certain cases it would not be administered.

Before your cataract surgery, the type of anesthesia to be administered is usually pre-determined. Pro Paracaine eye drops are commonly administered topical anesthetic eye drops. The choice of anesthetic depends mainly on the surgical procedure adopted, your eye condition and general health.


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