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Removal of the Eye

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Oculoplastic surgeons at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, offer various eye removal surgical options to relieve eye pain and minimize life-threatening risks. The most common indications for eye removal include blind, painful eyes due to chronic diseases such as glaucoma, badly traumatized eyes without visual potential, or eyes containing malignant cancers. Our experts take your eye health seriously and carefully consider each individual’s needs. We only recommend eye removal when our patients face excruciating conditions that can be hazardous to their overall health.

The types of surgical eye removal we offer are:

  • Evisceration: removal of the eye contents, leaving the muscles and sclera (white part of the eye) in place
  • Enucleation: removal of the entire eyeball where the muscles are detached and reattached to an implant
  • Exenteration: removal of the eye and other adjacent structures, such as the eyelids, fat and eye muscles

Faculty members of the ophthalmic plastic, orbital surgery, and oncology service are diplomates certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO).

Who is a Candidate?

Removal of the eye can relieve pain and minimize further risk to life and well-being of an individual with the following conditions:

  • Extensive trauma to the eyeball
  • Severe pain in a blind eye
  • Malignant tumors
  • Infection that is unresponsive to antibiotics
  • Prevention or treatment of sympathetic ophthalmia (a serious autoimmune condition following trauma)
  • Congenital lack of an eye or small eye (to enhance the development of the bony orbit)
  • Cosmetic improvement in disfigured eyes that don't see
  • Orbital tumors (tumors in the tissues behind the eyes)

What to Expect

The eye removal procedure takes place in the operating room either under general (fully asleep) anesthesia or with local anesthesia and sedation. It usually takes about one to two hours to perform the surgery.

Evisceration involves removing the cornea and all the contents inside the eyeball. An implant is placed in the sclera, and the tissues are closed over the implant. In enucleation, your surgeon disconnects the eyeball from the eye muscles and removes it with a portion of the optic nerve.

Once the eyeball is removed from the socket, an implant is put in its place to restore the lost volume. This implant may be wrapped in donor material, and the muscles controlling eye movement are sutured to the implant. These muscles help give some movement of the prosthesis for a more natural appearance. Since both eyes work together, you will notice that when you glance from side-to-side your eye socket will move with your natural eye.

Unfortunately, loss of vision in the eye removed is permanent, as eye transplants are not yet possible, but research is ongoing in this field. After loss of an eye, there is a reduction of the field of vision as well as a loss of depth perception.

We recommend a book titled A Singular View: The Art of Seeing with One Eye by Frank B. Brady to help you adjust to the loss of an eye. Also, you are instructed on what are called “monocular precautions.” This means that you need to do everything possible to protect the remaining eye, including wearing glasses made of shatter-proof plastic called “polycarbonate lenses.

There may be some discomfort following surgery as your tissues heal, but this is usually relieved by pain medication that your doctor will prescribe.


Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, is the top-rated facility in the country for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye, according to U.S. News & World Report. When you choose us for your eye care, you will receive the best care in the nation in a compassionate setting.

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