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Anophthalmos / Prosthetic Eye

Why may an eye need to be removed?

Removal of an eye may be necessary following trauma, infection, tumor, or from advanced disease that causes intractable eye pain. The amount of tissue that needs to be removed can range from the contents of the eye, the whole eyeball, the eye and surrounding contents of the orbit, to the entire orbit including surrounding bones. Rarely, an individual can be born without an eye or a disproportionately small eye.

What types of surgery are performed to remove an eye or reconstruct the socket?

Removal of an eye is performed with an evisceration or an enucleation surgery. An evisceration surgery involves removing the contents of the eye while leaving the shell of the eye intact. An enucleation surgery involves removing the whole eyeball but oftentimes leaving the eye muscles intact. An ocular implant is then placed in the space that the eye occupied with the muscles attached to help the implant move when you look in different directions.

In cases where the eye or part or all of the socket is removed, socket reconstruction may be necessary. Socket reconstruction may involve increasing orbital volume with implants or grafts from elsewhere on your body. The eyelids may also need to be tightened to allow for fitting of a prosthesis.

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© 2021 American Academy of Ophthalmology

Commonly asked questions

What kind of anesthesia is used during orbital surgery?

Most types of orbital surgery are performed under general anesthesia at an outpatient surgery center or during your hospital stay.

How long does the procedure take?

Orbital surgery usually takes about 1-2 hours from start to finish.

What to expect after removal of an eye or socket reconstruction?

Most patients require several weeks to fully recover after orbital surgery. A patient generally waits for around 1 month after removal of an eye or socket reconstruction to visit the ocularist for fitting and making of a prosthetic eye. The prosthetic eye is usually removed on a daily basis and cleaned with soap and water. Children with prosthetic eyes typically undergo multiple fittings to adjust for growth of their face over time.

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