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Enucleation is the surgical removal of the eye, leaving eye muscles and the contents of the eye socket intact. The eyelids, lashes, brow and surrounding skin all remain.

This procedure is done when there is no other way to remove the cancer completely from the eye. Unfortunately, loss of vision for the eye removed is permanent because an eye cannot be transplanted. The eye is removed, and a spherical implant made of coral or hydroxyapatite is placed into the orbit. This allows the blood vessels to grow into the porous coral material. Occasionally, porous polyethylene implants are used. The muscles that help give movement to the eye are then sutured to the implant, which will allow for some movement of the prosthesis.

What to Expect

The eye is surrounded by bones; therefore, it is much easier to tolerate removal of an eye as compared to the loss of other organs. After a healing period of approximately five weeks, a temporary ocular prosthesis (plastic-eye) is inserted. The prosthesis is a plastic shell painted to match the other eye. It is inserted under the eyelid, much like a big contact lens. After a final prosthetic fitting most patients are happy with the way they look, and say others can’t even tell they have vision in only one eye. All prosthetic eyes at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute are custom-made and fitted.

After enucleation, there is reduced visual field on the side of the body when looking straight ahead, and there is a loss of depth perception. Many of the skills of depth perception can be relearned and with time, almost all patients are able to do all the things they used to do before losing their eye. A few people who did very well with only one eye include: President Theodore Roosevelt, Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan, Congressman Morris Udall, entertainers Sammy Davis Jr. and Sandy Duncan, actor Peter Falk, painter Edgar Degas, aviator Wiley Post, inventor Guglielmo Marconi and British naval hero Horatio Nelson.

Why Choose Us?

Multidisciplinary Care Teams. You’ll have your cancer evaluated and treated by a team of eye experts. They represent several specialties: ophthalmology, dermatology, ocular oncology, radiation oncology and pathology. It adds up to personalized, well-rounded care focused on giving you an optimal quality of life.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute: Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute 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.

A History of Firsts.  We were the first center in the country to use topical interferon drops to treat eye cancer – without biopsy or surgery. This and many other research advances ensure you the best possible cancer and eye care.

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