A questionnaire regarding preferred methods of cataract extraction and anaesthesia was sent to 456 consultant ophthalmologists in England and Wales. Replies were received from 86% (n = 392), 83% (n = 380) having completed the questionnaire in full. The most frequently employed surgical approach was non-automated extracapsular cataract extraction. Only 2% of surgeons (n = 8) used phacoemulsification routinely and 2% (n = 7) used intracapsular extraction. Intraocular lens implantation was the standard practice of 99% of surgeons (n = 376). There has been a dramatic increase in the popularity of local anaesthesia, which was employed routinely (in more than three-quarters of their cases) by 20% of surgeons (n = 76). Retrobulbar infiltration remains the most common method of administration. Sedation was given routinely by 45% of surgeons (n = 171) when using local anaesthesia. Medical contraindications and patient preference were considered the most important reasons for selecting local anaesthesia rather than general. The exclusive use of general anaesthesia in cataract surgery appears to be diminishing.
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