This leaflet aims to tell you what eye removal surgery is, who might need this surgery and what other treatment options are available.
Unfortunately it is sometimes necessary to remove an eye surgically. The aim of surgery is to remove the problematic eye and replace it with a permanent orbital implant (see picture on page 4). This is a ball that will fill the space that was previously taken up by the eye. Once the surgery has healed you will be able to wear an artificial eye this is tailor made and painted to match the fellow eye. These are very realistic.
The main reasons why people need their eye removed includes:
If you have a painful, blind eye it may be possible to alleviate the pain with pain killers or certain eye drops.
If you have a blind, unsightly eye a special contact lens painted to match the fellow eye may be fitted, this is called a cosmetic shell.
If you have an eye cancer and your ocular oncologist has discussed the treatment options with you and has recommended eye removal then there isn’t usually an alternative.
This operation is usually done under a general anaesthetic so that you are asleep. Occasionally, if you have medical problems, it may be necessary to perform it under a local anaesthetic and sedation.
There are two types of surgery available:
If you are taking aspirin or any other blood thinners you will need to inform your doctor as you may need to stop these. This decision is made on an individual basis and you should only do so if it is safe and you have been instructed by your GP, surgeon or anaesthetist. This will be discussed with you before surgery. All herbal medicines should be stopped at least 14 days before surgery.
Smoking impairs healing and if possible you should try to stop 6-8 weeks prior to surgery.
If you have high blood pressure ensure that this is well controlled as it will make you more likely to bleed and bruise.
You should bring a list of your current medications and any allergies with you.
You will not be able to drive yourself home after the procedure. Please arrange for someone to accompany you home.
You will have a pad on the operated eye and this will usually stay on until your next visit, your lids may also be temporarily stitched together. The pad will be removed in the eye department up to a week later. You may wish to stay in overnight or you may feel well enough to go home the same day.
During the operation the area will have been injected with local anaesthetic to help to control any pain initially. Patients describe different amounts of pain after this operation but you will be sent home with pain killers and any pain should lessen over 1 to 2 weeks. You will also be given eye drops or ointment to use after your eye pad has been removed for up to 4 weeks. You must wash your hands before using these.
It is normal to have swollen lids initially but this will gradually improve. If you have severe pain, increasing swelling or redness or significant discharge this could be a sign of infection you will need to seek medical help.
Try to avoid strenuous activity for 2 weeks after surgery. Many people need at least 2 weeks off work.
You will be referred to the artificial eye service once the surgery has healed. This is usually at 8 weeks after the operation. They will make a tailor made artificial eye for you to match the fellow eye (see picture on page 4). Straight after the operation you will have a plastic clear ‘conformer’ placed inside your lids to hold the shape of your eye (see picture on page 4). This should be left in place until you are fitted with your artificial eye.
OneVision – support network for people who lose vision in one eye, Wardington Court – Welford Road – Northampton – NN2 8AG, Tel: 0845 108 3161, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.one-vision.org.uk
The national artificial eye service – Website: www.bfwh.nhs.uk/aes/index.htm, Helpline Number is 0845 6050561. Calls are charged at local rates within the UK.
American society of ocularists – Website: www.ocularist.org/resources_surgical_procedures.asp