Enucleation is permanent surgical removal of the eye. At Retina Consultants of Houston, our experienced and highly trained physicians treat a full range of retinal conditions. While they do all that they can to save an eye, sometimes, in rare cases such as uveal melanoma or severe trauma, it is necessary to remove a severely damaged or diseased eye. Enucleation is performed when there is no other alternative. Our board-certified ophthalmologist, ocular oncologist and surgeon Amy C. Schefler, MD performs enucleation surgery.
Modern enucleation surgery takes about one hour and involves removal of the eye, leaving intact the muscles that move the eye as well as the conjunctiva (the skin of the eye) and the eyelids. Dr. Schefler inserts a sphere-shaped implant into the orbital cavity (where the eye used to be) to fill the space, and the patient’s eye muscles are attached to the implant to create movement.
After approximately six weeks, when the tissues have healed, the patient is referred to an ocularist. The ocularist fits the patient for an ocular prosthesis (a special contact lens) which is painted to match the patient’s other eye. The prosthesis does not move perfectly like a normal eye, but it looks extremely natural. In a normal social setting, most people have no idea that a patient has had an enucleation. However, you only maintain vision in your remaining natural eye.
Our post-operative nurses will monitor your progress and pain levels after the enucleation surgery is complete. This will require an overnight stay in the hospital. You will have a sterile, dry patch over the removed eye. Dr. Schefler may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection in the socket. In several weeks, you will need to have an appointment with an oculist to have a fitting for a prosthetic eye and then will need another surgery for its placement.