Fortunately emergencies such as respiratory and cardiac depression or failure are comparatively rare in eye surgery, but they do happen although they are rarely reported. It has been estimated1 that 45 deaths with general anesthesia occur during eye operations by certified ophthalmologists each year in the United States. Such a report should stimulate ophthalmic surgeons to be prepared to treat emergencies if they occur.
Regardless of the type of anesthesia used, we should be prepared to take care of emergencies and to see that proper emergency equipment is readily available. Most anesthetists agree that of first importance in case of respiratory or cardiac failure is the establishment of a patent airway and administration of oxygen. Cullen2 conservatively estimates that 90% of the deaths occurring in patients under anesthesia are due to improper management of the airway and further states that it is difficult to kill a patient
ATKINSON WS. Management of Respiratory and Cardiac Failure. Arch Ophthalmol. 1963;70(6):813-816. doi:10.1001/archopht.1963.00960050815016