Five things that parents should know about pediatric eye surgery requiring anesthesia

Healthy eyes play an important role in a child's development, and sometimes more than just a new pair of glasses may be required. Parents of children who need surgery and anesthesia to correct an eye abnormality can rest assured that Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are highly educated and well-prepared to administer pediatric anesthesia in ophthalmology settings, and do so on a regular basis.

During Children's Eye Health and Safety Month, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), which represents more than 50,000 nurse anesthetists, wants parents to know the following important information about anesthesia for eye procedures. Although ophthalmic related surgeries are rarely life threatening, CRNAs understand that procedures involving the eyes can be frightening to patients of all ages, especially children. To calm the fears of young patients and their parents, CRNAs take a holistic approach to their patients' care, focusing on their mental and emotional well-being as well as their physical health. CRNAs provide patient-centered care and encourage patients and their parents to ask questions to understand their anesthesia options and the anesthesia care plan.

Children should begin having their eyes examined around the age of three to help with early detection of refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and serious diseases such as amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), ptosis (drooping of the eyelid), and color deficiency (color blindness).

Anesthesia for children is generally safe and allows for surgery and more extensive examinations to be administered without pain or anxiety. Based on the severity of certain conditions, a surgical procedure may be required to correct the issue. Here are five things you want to know if your child is faced with having surgery or another eye procedure requiring anesthesia:

  1. Children almost always need general anesthesia in order to have surgery in or around their eyes, so that the child is completely still and the surgery can be done safely and effectively. General anesthesia is the state produced when a patient receives medications for amnesia, analgesia, muscle paralysis, and sedation.
  2. Before surgery, a medical history and physical examination will be performed to determine if the child is sufficiently healthy enough to undergo anesthesia and surgery.
  3. Prior to the procedure, parents should share with the CRNA any adverse reactions their child has previously had to anesthesia, as well as any family history of adverse anesthesia reactions.
  4. Depending on the age of the child, pediatric patients undergoing anesthesia should not eat or drink anything between 4-8 hours before surgery.
  5. CRNAs remain with their pediatric patients throughout surgery, monitoring vital signs, adjusting anesthetic levels, and waking the patient after surgery.

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