Effects of peribulbar anesthesia on ocular blood flow in patients undergoing cataract surgery

Am J Ophthalmol. 1999 Jun;127(6):645-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(99)00066-5.


Purpose: The effects of extraconal, peribulbar anesthesia on ocular blood flow may be caused by concomitant elevations in intraocular pressure or direct pharmacologic alteration of vascular tone. We quantified the effect on ocular circulation with a new technique for assessment of ocular hemodynamics.

Methods: In a prospective study, ocular hemodynamics were measured before and 1 and 5 minutes after peribulbar anesthesia in 22 eyes with age-related cataract. Measurements included fundus pulsation amplitude with a laser interferometric method assessing the pulsatile choroidal blood flow and mean blood flow velocity as well as resistive index in the ophthalmic and central retinal artery with Doppler sonography. Systemic blood pressure and pulse were monitored throughout the period of ocular hemodynamic measurements.

Results: Fundus pulsation amplitude decreased significantly after peribulbar anesthesia (after 1 minute and 5 minutes: -13% and -8%; P < .001). In the central retinal artery, mean blood flow velocity dropped (-15%; P < .001) and resistive index increased (+3%; P = .02) 1 minute after peribulbar anesthesia compared with baseline. There were no changes in ophthalmic artery hemodynamics. Intraocular pressure was elevated 1 minute after peribulbar anesthesia (+29%; P = .003) but reached baseline values after 5 minutes.

Conclusion: Pulsatile choroidal blood flow and retinal blood flow velocities were reduced after peribulbar anesthesia. These reductions were still present 5 minutes after peribulbar anesthesia, when intraocular pressure had returned to baseline values. This supports the theory of drug-induced vasoconstriction after peribulbar anesthesia. A loss of vision may be a risk of peribulbar anesthesia in patients who have compromised ocular blood flow before surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anesthesia, Local*
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Blood Flow Velocity / drug effects
  • Cataract Extraction*
  • Choroid / blood supply*
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmic Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Ophthalmic Artery / physiology*
  • Orbit
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Retinal Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Retinal Artery / physiology*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color


  • Anesthetics, Local