Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of topical anesthesia as an alternative to peribulbar anesthesia in clear corneal cataract surgery.
Setting: Department of Ophthalmology, University of Vienna, Austria.
Methods: In this prospective, double-blind clinical trial, 36 patients had bilateral cataract surgeries performed from 1 to 3 months apart. Half of the patients had topical anesthesia for the first surgery and peribulbar anesthesia for the second surgery. The other half had peribulbar first and then topical. All surgery was done using a temporal clear corneal approach and bimanual phacoemulsification followed by in-the-bag intraocular lens implantation. Subjective pain was assessed using a visual analog scale of no pain (0%) to worst pain imaginable (100%) and intraoperative motility using a rank scale of adverse motility (-5) to ideal patient cooperation (+5).
Results: Subjective pain was comparable whether topical or peribulbar anesthesia was used (mean 10.75 versus 10.97%; P > .6). Patient cooperation (motility) was significantly better when topical anesthesia was used (+2.16 versus +1.11; P = .03). There were no significant differences in complications. A peribulbar block was given in addition to the topical anesthesia in two cases.
Conclusions: Topical anesthesia is a safe, effective alternative to peribulbar anesthesia in clear corneal cataract surgery.