The purpose of this study was to evaluate peri-operative outcome after vitreoretinal surgery when peribulbar anaesthesia is combined with general anaesthesia. Sixty adult patients undergoing elective primary retinal detachment surgery with scleral buckling or an encircling procedure received either peribulbar anaesthesia in conjunction with general anaesthesia or general anaesthesia alone. For peribulbar anaesthesia a single percutaneous injection of 5–7 ml of local anaesthetic solution (0.75% ropivacaine with hyaluronidase 15 iu.ml−1) was used. The incidence of intra-operative oculocardiac reflex and surgical bleeding interfering with the surgical field, postoperative pain and analgesia requirements, and postoperative nausea and vomiting were recorded. In the block group there was a lower incidence of oculocardiac reflex and surgical bleeding intra-operatively. Patients in the block group also had better postoperative analgesia and a lower incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting compared with the group without a block. The use of peribulbar anaesthesia in conjunction with general anesthesia was superior to general anaesthesia alone for vitreoretinal surgery with scleral buckling.