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School of Medicine
There are a few occasions where it becomes necessary to remove all or part of a patient’s eyeball and/or eye socket. While this surgery is used as a last resort, reasons to have all or part of the eye or eye socket removed or modified include:
- Trauma – A severely damaged eye sometimes cannot be repaired and has to be removed in order to prevent infection and sympathetic ophthalmia (a rare disease where the immune system attacks not only the damaged but also the normal eye).
- Pain – A blind eye commonly becomes painful and has to be removed for comfort, in addition to cosmetic reasons
- Cancer of the eye – If cancer is present within the eye itself, it is sometimes necessary to remove the entire eye
- Orbital tumors – While tumors can grow inside the eye, they may also grow within the eye socket (the orbit) which surrounds and protects the eye
- Sunken eye (enophthalmos) – Usually refers to a sunken appearing prosthetic eye and can be treated by various procedures that increase the volume of the eye socket to bring the prosthetic eye forward, in line with the normal eye.
Surgical procedures for eye removal
Our oculoplastic surgeons will help determine if partial eye removal will be more beneficial, or if removing the entire eye is the only option. These procedures are used only when absolutely necessary. The three main surgical techniques for partial or complete eye removal are:
- Evisceration – Evisceration surgery involves removing the eye contents, while leaving the sclera (the white part of the eye) and the muscles responsible for the eye movements intact. This is the least traumatic procedure for the eye socket and usually yields the best cosmetic result.
- Enucleation – Enucleation surgery involves the removal of the entire eye (including the sclera), but leaves the eye muscles and the orbit intact
- Exenteration – The most radical of the three procedures, exenteration involves removing the entire eye, the eye muscles, most of the orbital soft tissues and occasionally part of the orbital bones. This procedure is reserved for severe cancers or life-threatening infections.
Eye and eye socket reconstruction
Evisceration, enucleation, and exenteration surgery will change the appearance of your eye, making reconstructive surgery necessary. Because the procedure is carefully selected based on individual needs, our oculoplastic surgeons will discuss which reconstructive options might be best for you.
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