Creature Comforts in Cataract Surgery: Techniques to Limit Intraoperative Anxiety Can Deliver Optimal Results

Creature Comforts in Cataract Surgery: Techniques to Limit Intraoperative Anxiety Can Deliver Optimal Results

For quite a few ophthalmologists, cataract surgery is routine. It can be uncomplicated to overlook that, from a patient’s viewpoint, undergoing this process is a novel knowledge. Some patients have in no way had any surgery prior to, and quite a few more have in no way had eye surgery. The notion of an invasive ocular process can unnerve some patients, and these stressors can be linked with poorer outcomes, study shows.1 With this in thoughts, it is incumbent upon each the doctor and the surgical assistance employees to provide an atmosphere of compassion and self-confidence. “[Patient] anxiety is fueled by fear, and it’s fueled by fear of the unknown,” explains Steve H. Chang, MD, a cataract surgeon at Nevada Eye Consultants in Reno, Nevada. “I try to verbalize as much as I can that everything is going great, ‘you’re doing great.’”

Open, calm, and direct communication is important to delivering comfort and maintaining patients relaxed for their process and recovery. Some surgical centers are incorporating unorthodox tactics such as music therapy, guided imagery, meditation, strategic workplace style, and other preoperative protocols to provide major excellent outcomes.

Researchers and teams such as these at Nevada Eye Consultants and the Eye Surgery Center of Northern Nevada (ESCNN) are obtaining several revolutionary approaches to eliminate the dread from cataract surgery.  Upon getting into ESCNN, people are welcomed by name — their arrival is anticipated. The employees may possibly be noticed enthusiastically conversing with patients.

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A Comfortable Setting

To care for your nervous cataract patient, get started by developing a warm and inviting atmosphere. Think of the soothing decor of a corner coffee shop.

Dr Chang says he performs around 1800 cataract surgeries every single year in his practice at Nevada Eye Consultants, in Reno, Nevada. In his knowledge, psychological variables are an particularly essential element  of recovery. These variables can be influenced by the workplace itself.

A study on dental offices shows that waiting places with cooler temperatures, dim lighting, and pleasing fragrances can all place patients at ease.2 Additionally, nature imagery and soft music has been identified to have a psychological advantage for patients undergoing any elective process.2,3 At the Eye Surgery Center of Northern Nevada, the waiting region options low ceilings, earth-tones, and only a handful of chairs. Patients are not overwhelmed by clutter. It’s created to really feel homey.

“I think how patients perceive the surgery and experience plays a bigger role in how they feel in their healing,” he explains. “If somebody feels like they had too much discomfort or they were too nervous, that sometimes translates into their postoperative period, and ‘I know something was wrong because I felt this (sensation).’”

Candace Carter, RN, retrieves a warm blanket for a patient about to undergo cataract removal at Eye Surgery Center of Northern Nevada. Patients may possibly also listen to music players with prior to proceeding to the operating area.

While the physical setting can influence a patient’s comfort level, the atmosphere patients perceive is not merely lighting and wallpaper. The way clinicians and employees interact is also a aspect of that.

Dr Chang believes if surgery teams evolve their approaches to pressure management, they can prompt a smoother recovery. “If the patient feels like the experience of surgery was great, and all their needs and wants were addressed, and their anxiety was handled, they’re usually extremely happy and very relieved.”

To maximize individualization on surgery day, Dr Chang starts a conversation with a preoperative bedside check out that continues through their time in the operating area (OR). He tells patients that if they ever really feel uncomfortable, to inform himself or any person on the group. This back and forth communication may possibly support them really feel protected adequate to be an active participant in their care.

“I’ve learned never to underestimate or take for granted how each patient feels, or should feel, or behave before or after surgery,” he says. Part of that customization is just listening. Patients will at times ask inquiries that take a handful of minutes to clarify. Although it may possibly take added time, he knows even a 10-minute process is a significant deal to them “it’s their eye.”

The Soothing Power of Music 

Dr Chang is amongst a expanding quantity of surgeons who see the worth of intraoperative applications of music therapy. He makes use of a streaming music playlist and incorporates “the softer side” of a variety of genres. He believes a silent OR is an emotionally sterile OR.

“I’ve found over the years that music is good for patients, but it’s also good for me and it’s good for my staff,” he says. The patients are relaxed by the melodies and at times ask him who chose the selections.

“Sometimes, they have a certain type of music they want to play and I’m like ‘Yeah, let’s do it’ and we’ll throw on their preference in music. Just want to make the patient know that we’re focused on them. I always try to say ‘this is all about you,” he explains. If the patient would like silence and quiet, he respects these wishes, “always, always, always.”

This is not just Dr Chang’s knowledge. The notion is borne out in study as effectively. “Musical interventions affect not only the physiologic domains of the patient, such as blood pressure and heart rate, but also emotional domains, such as perioperative anxiety levels” according to a 2016 American Academy of Ophthalmology presentation, later published in Eye (London). “Exposure to auditory stimuli in the operation room such as the sound of the phaco machine and the professional conversations of surgeons may also cause emotional stress to the patient.” In specific, that study looked at binaural beats — defined as “special sounds perceived when 2 auditory stimuli of different frequency are presented to each ear.” Researchers think these can influence the brain by means of the entrainment of brainwaves and can decrease anxiousness as effectively as boost discomfort thresholds.4

But even regular music has a clinically-backed pressure-relieving impact. In a randomized clinical trial published in JAMA Ophthalmology, preoperative listening to an app-primarily based music sequence on a tablet with headphones decreased patient anxiousness and intraoperative hypertensive incidences. Additionally, the imply quantity of sedative drugs required through the process was notably reduced in patients who listened to music (.04), than in the manage set (.57), and even though more than half of the manage group (82 people, 52.9%) skilled hypertensive events, only 13.6% (21 people) of these who listened to music had the identical complication (each P &lt.001).

Supportive Staff

Nancy Paul, RN, MSN, clinical director of ESCNN, estimates that 400 cataract surgeries are performed at the center every single month, one hundred to 125 per week. She advocates for a nurturing method all through the procedure. Typically, the clinic invites household members to the waiting region to assistance every single patient. However, at this time, verify-in has been adapted for COVID-19 distancing and security, and household members do not accompany patients. She explains that employees members now work tougher to fill the anxiousness-relieving function that households customarily give for every single other. “The things that we do to decrease their anxiety; we don’t make them wait too long in the lobby,” she says. “We certainly communicate and keep things moving. We cover them with warm blankets.”

There are usually at least 3 nurses taking care of every single patient in the preoperative period. “We introduce ourselves, and that’s actually an anxiety-calming thing too, that we, everyone introduces ourselves,” Ms Paul notes. “And even though we’re wearing masks, we’re all smiling at them, and I think they feel that.” Four or more nurses circulate in the pre- and post-op area, watching monitors and hunting for eye make contact with. They are confident to continue to ask about their status in a friendly way. “You know, ‘How are you doing? Are you OK? Do you need anything,’” she adds.

Patients arrive an hour and a half prior to their process so there is adequate time to obtain drops and dilate, but they are usually in a bed for around 1 hour.

In Ms Paul’s knowledge, “pain is pretty uncommon, again, but maybe those (few) patients would have some pain and you might have to hold them a little longer,” she says. In these situations, Ms Paul’s tactics consist of regrouping, thinking about more than-the-counter discomfort relievers, and personally phoning the patient prior to the second eye. If pre-process medication modifications may possibly be indicated, she obtains the surgeon’s guidance.

Robust Patient Education

Research published in the AORN Journal explores quite a few of the proof-primarily based tactics to reduce patient anxiousness, such as the therapeutic patient/caregiver connection, music, relaxation tactics, necessary oils, education, and household-centered surgery preparation.6 But, “the most effective interventions from the current literature are perioperative patient education and music therapy,” according to the assessment.

Ms Paul describes patient education as beginning with the preoperative consultation, which resumes the day of surgery. At admission, consent types are utilized as educational components. Education continues by means of each and every step.

A patient is hardly ever alone and is busy studying, according to the ESCNN group. The nurses communicate the present pre-op activities and get started to go more than post-op guidelines. Ms Paul says that slow, even pacing, reinforcing ideas, and regularly asking patients if they have inquiries lessens anxiousness. The 3-word mantra for employees every single time they verify in with a patient is ‘listening, validation, and reassurance.’

If a patient nonetheless expresses be concerned, a nurse explains that the medical professional can prescribe a little dose of anxiousness medication. They uncover most do not require it. “Just knowing what’s going to happen, most do fine,” she says.

In the OR, nurses involve patients in the procedure, reviewing which eye is becoming operated on, encouraging feelings of security. After surgery, in the 20-minute recovery period, 1 to 2 nurses also go more than guidelines with any waiting household member. Printed guidelines are offered, which includes a colour eye drop chart.

Mindfulness Techniques

Research suggests that some mindfulness tactics prior to a process may possibly decrease discomfort afterwards. A randomized, single-blind study of 44 patients undergoing identical-day head and neck surgery was carried out by US Air Force employees.7 Guided imagery prior to surgery lessened anxiousness compared with manage people (P = .002), and 2 hours following the process, they had substantially significantly less discomfort (P = .041), as effectively as an typical 9-minute shorter post-op remain (P = .055).7

With particular regard to cataract surgery, a study group in India was capable to show that a specific meditative strategy resulted in decreased patient-reported anxiousness levels, reduced blood pressures, and far better cooperation through surgery.8 A Chinese study group saw equivalent outcomes following introducing meditation instruction the day prior to cataract surgery, with an extra instruction 30 minutes prior to the operation.9

While bringing on a complete-time mindfulness meditation instructor may possibly not be in each and every surgical center’s price range, clinicians can assessment the quite a few no cost streaming on the web videos that give preoperative meditation tactics and uncover a single they’re comfy recommending to their patients.

Staff Unity

Whether practices opt to incorporate a new appear, soothing sounds, or take recommendations from Eastern wisdom, Ms Paul believes the most essential issue in relieving patient pressure is the teamwork, engagement, and power shown by the surgical employees. She recommends investing in a group that will take ownership of the surgical center, and to limit any reliance on per diem nurses.

“It’s not 1 nurse caring for 1 patient, it’s all the nurses caring for 1 patient,” Ms Paul explains. In post-surgery evaluations, she says, patients have written that her nurses seemed like a household.

“Patients pick up on if you’re not working well together or if you are working well together, and that’s what (we do). We are working well together.”


1. Obuchowska I, Konopinska J. Fear and anxiety associated with cataract surgery under local anesthesia in adults: a systematic review. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 202114:781-793. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S314214

2. Appukuttan D. Strategies to manage patients with dental anxiety and dental phobia: literature review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 20168:35–50. doi:10.2147/CCIDE.S63626

3. Nielsen E, Wåhlin I, Frisman G. Evaluating pictures of nature and soft music on anxiety and well-being during elective surgery. Open Nurs J. 201812:58–66. doi:10.2174/1874434601812010058

4. Wiwatwongwana D, Vichitvejpaisal P, Thaikruea L, Klaphajone J, Tantong A, Wiwatwongwana A. The effect of music with and without binaural beat audio on operative anxiety in patients undergoing cataract surgery: a randomized controlled trial. Eye (Lond). 201630(11):1407-1414. doi:10.1038/eye.2016.160.

5. Guerrier G, Abdoul H, Jilet L, et al. Efficacy of a web app–based music intervention during cataract surgery: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published on the web July 29, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2021.2767

6. Bailey L. Strategies for decreasing patient anxiety in the perioperative setting. AORN J. 201092(4):445-457. doi:10.1016/j.aorn.2010.04.017

7. Gonzales EA, Ledesma RJA, McAllister DJ, et al. Effects of guided imagery on postoperative outcomes in patients undergoing same-day surgical procedures: a randomized, single-blind study. AANA Journal. 201078(3):181-188.

8. Gupta S, Gupta A,  Tiwari C,  Verma N,  Pradhan S. Effect of psychoneurobics (meditation technique) on status of anxiety in patients undergoing cataract surgery: a randomized controlled trial. 20184(3):36-42.  doi:10.24321/2454.325X.2018229.

9. Wang Yu-juan, Cheng Fang, MA Jing et al. The effects of meditation on patients receiving cataract surgery. Chinese Journal of Nursing. 2016-03.

This write-up initially appeared on Ophthalmology Advisor

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