There are several drops we use to anesthetize the surface of the eye. The most common one is called proparacaine, though we occasionally use tetracaine. These drops are very similar to the “novacaine” that a dentist uses … but fortunately we don’t have to use a needle to apply it! Numbing drops make it easier to check eyes pressure using applanation tonometry. We also use these drops prior to cataract surgery to minimize discomfort. Unfortunately, anesthetic eye drops are not safe for home use. The medications are toxic to the corneal surface when used repeatedly and will keep surface wounds from healing. For pain, we prescribe ointments, bandage contact lenses, and can even patch an eye shut if needed (see patching).