- Eye Surgery
- Risks and Complications
What is a retrobulbar block?
Retrobulbar block is an anesthetic procedure used for eye surgeries.
Usually, lidocaine with epinephrine is injected into the retrobulbar space, which is the area located behind the eyeball (globe). It numbs the muscles around the eye by blocking cranial nerves II, III, and VI. This numbs the eye and also paralyzes the eye muscles temporarily so the eye does not move during the procedure. Retrobulbar block also helps numb the eye’s cornea, uvea, and conjunctiva by blocking the ciliary nerves.
Retrobulbar block was the standard procedure for anesthetizing the eye, however, another technique called peribulbar anesthesia (PBA) is becoming the preferred method because there is less chance of injuring the eye and the structures behind the globe (optic nerve and eye muscles) during the procedure.
What is a retrobulbar block used for?
Retrobulbar block is used for any type of eye surgery or procedure requiring eyeball (globe) anesthesia and eye muscle paralysis, such as:
How do doctors perform retrobulbar block?
To perform the retrobulbar block:
- The patient is first placed laying on their back, staring up at the ceiling
- Mild sedation such as propofol or midazolam is often administered intravenously
- The surface of the eye is numbed with topical anesthesia (usually tetracaine or similar medications)
- A local anesthetic (lidocaine, also frequently used in a mixture with bupivacaine) is injected behind the eyeball (globe)
- To decrease the chance of bleeding, ocular compression (the doctor applies pressure to the eyeball) may be performed a few seconds at a time for up to two minutes
There are alternatives to using the retrobulbar block, including:
- Topical anesthesia using drops applied to the surface of the eye is commonly used in cataract surgery.
- Peribulbar block is similar to the retrobulbar block but the anesthetic is administered in a different area of the eye and is less likely to damage important eye structures.
- Sub-Tenon block involves the use of topical anesthetic drops and an anesthetic injection to the eye.
- General anesthesia is rarely used for eye surgeries except in complex cases.
How long does retrobulbar block last?
Depending on the type of anesthetic used, a retrobulbar block may be short-acting, lasting about 30 minutes, or long-acting, lasting about 6-8 hours.
What are risks and complications of retrobulbar block?
Retrobulbar block is generally well-tolerated. When complications do occur, they can include:
- Retrobulbar bleeding
- Optic nerve injury
- Eye redness
- Eye pain
- Dilated pupils/light sensitivity
- Allergic reaction to anesthetic
- Ocular perforation
- Respiratory depression or arrest
- Stroke in the eye
- Slow heart rate
- Eyelid drooping
- Double vision
- Corneal abrasion
- Subarachnoid or intradural injection (very rare)
Latest Eyesight News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Long Does Retrobulbar Block Last Related Articles
Astigmatic Keratotomy (AK) Eye SurgeryAstigmatic keratotomy eye surgery is used to correct astigmatism. The procedure involves making one or two incisions at the steepest part of the cornea so that it relaxes and has a more rounded shape. Potential side effects include infection, a weakened cornea, and fluctuating vision.
Black EyeThe most common cause of a black eye is a trauma injury to the face or head. Most black eyes are minor and heal on their own; however, some may lead to significant injury. In addition to trauma to the face, cosmetic surgery can cause a black eye(s) as a side effect. Learn when to seek immediate medical care for a black eye.
Eye Problems and DiabetesDiabetes and eye problems are generally caused by high blood sugar levels over an extended period of time. Types of eye problems in a person with diabetes include glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. Examples of symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, eye aches, pain, halos around lights, loss of vision, watering eyes. Treatment for eye problems in people with diabetes depend on the type of eye problem. Prevention of eye problems include reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, quitting smoking, and maintaining proper blood glucose levels.
Eye Care and Eye Disorder
Many common eye disorders resolve without treatment and some may be managed with over-the-counter (OTC) products. It's important to visit a physician or ophthalmologist is the problem involves the eyeball itself or the condition hasn't improved after 72 hours of use of an eye-care OTC product.
Eye Diseases SlideshowEye diseases can cause damage and blindness if not detected and treated soon enough. Learn the warning signs and symptoms of common eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, pink eye, macular degeneration and more.
Eye Health FoodsEye health is boosted by lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin A, and other nutrients. Special formulas of eye vitamins are available to boost eye health and decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye conditions. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to protect your eye health.
Eye Symptom MeaningsWill your eye condition clear up, or is it a warning sign of a critical eye health issue? Learn about common eye symptoms, what they could mean, what you can do about them, and when to see your eye doctor.
Eye PictureThe eye has a number of components which include but are not limited to the cornea, iris, pupil, lens, retina, macula, optic nerve, choroid and vitreous. See a picture of the Eye and learn more about the health topic.
Eye Conditions QuizWhat do you know about your eyes? Take this quick quiz to learn about a range of eye diseases and conditions.
Herpes Viral Infections of the EyeHerpes of the eye occurs due to herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1). Symptoms of herpes of the eye include pain in and around the eye, rash or sores on the eyelids, redness, swelling, and cloudiness of the cornea.
Keratoplasty Eye Surgery (ALK)Keratoplasty eye surgery is used to correct nearsightedness and mild farsightedness. The procedure involves making incisions in the cornea and underlying tissue to correct vision. Potential side effects include infection, corneal scarring, glare, and the inability to wear contacts.
LASEK Laser Eye SurgeryLASEK is a type of laser surgery that is used to correct astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. The procedure involves cutting the outer layer of the cornea with a fine blade to correct vision. Potential side effects include dry eyes, cloudy vision, reduced vision, and the sensation of having a foreign object in the eye.
Laser Eye SurgeryHow does LASIK work? Get information on this popular laser eye surgery, the procedure, success rates, and possible vision side effects from LASIK eye surgery.
LASIK Eye SurgeryLASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery is a procedure in which a laser is used beneath the corneal flap to reshape the cornea. This process is used to:
- treat refractive errors,
- improve vision,
- and eliminate or reduce the need for contact lenses or glasses.
- conventional LASIK,
- wavefront-optimized LASIK,
- and wavefront-guided LASIK.
LTK Laser Eye SurgeryLTK is a type of laser eye surgery that is used to treat farsightedness and astigmatism. The procedure involves using a laser to shrink and reshape the cornea. Potential side effects include sensitivity to light and the sensation of having a foreign object in the eye.
Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)Strabismus, or crossed eyes, is a condition in which the eyes do not align in the usual way. The condition may be congenital or the result of a problem with the control of the muscles of the eyes. Strabismus may cause double vision, headaches, eyestrain, and problems with depth perception and peripheral vision. Treatment may involve physical therapy, vision therapy, surgery, or wearing glasses.