A specialized technique developed specifically for ophthalmic surgery has led surgeons at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital to perform most private cataract extractions—more than 1,000 per year—with patients under general anesthesia. Because this practice is followed by so few ophthalmic surgeons elsewhere, an evaluation of the relative safety and benefits of local vs general anesthesia was undertaken.
A retrospective study comparing 2,217 consecutive patients operated on under general anesthesia with 561 patients operated on under local analgesia leads us to believe that general anesthesia provides the surgeon with optimum operating conditions. General anesthesia has proved to be a safe procedure, with a minimum of complications. The ophthalmic surgeon is assured of absolute patient immobility, with safety equivalent to that seen with procedures performed with local analgesia, despite the advanced age and resulting physiological degeneration of the patient population.
Wolf GL, Lynch S, Berlin I. Intraocular Surgery With General Anesthesia. Arch Ophthalmol. 1975;93(5):323-326. doi:10.1001/archopht.1975.01010020335001