August 31, 2012
Removal of the Eye (Enucleation)

Why Might this Procedure be Necessary?

In almost all cases, the eye is removed because it has reached a point where it has no chance of being capable of sight and it is painful. Trauma to the eye (such as an infected scratch or puncture to the eye, hitting the eye on something sharp), tumours of the eye, glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eye), and herpes related ulcers on the eye (in cats) are all catastrophes.{{more}} Any of these conditions or others creates a painful, blinded eye. Brachycephalic breeds (those with flattened faces and prominent eyes) tend to be predisposed to eye injuries and often it is these breeds that end up with one eye enucleated. The focus must become the relief of pain when restoring vision becomes hopeless.

Is the Surgery Painful or Disfiguring?

The photo shown at the top of this page is a typical end result of enucleation. It is not painful after the initial post-surgical recovery, but during recovery the surgical area is quite sore. The pain resolves quickly over the first few days after surgery.

What can we Expect after the Surgery?

In surgery, the eye is removed and the eyelids are sewn closed. Sometimes there are stitches to be removed in 10 to 14 days, but sometimes the stitches dissolve on their own. The eyelids will be swollen and there may be some bruising. (If the eye injury is more recent, there tends to be more swelling and bruising than if the injury is more chronic.) Some red-tinged fluid may seep from the incision and this is normal. At first the eye may look like it is simply closed. Over the first week following surgery, the swelling will go down and the socket will flatten out.

The pet will have lost peripheral vision on the side of the enucleation and may need to adjust to being approached from this side. Cats should be kept as indoor only pets after an enucleation, as the outdoor lifestyle will pose even more hazards than usual.

What Signs Would Indicate a Problem?

Infection may pose a complication. In this event, the eye area would remain swollen after the initial week and the incision may drain pus. If this occurs, the infection would require drainage and antibiotics. If you think there may be an infection, recheck with your vet as soon as possible. Remember, some mild oozing of red-tinged fluid is normal during the first few days after surgery.

If the eye was enucleated due to a severe tear or rupture, the eye may not be removed in one piece. Sometimes a small fragment of the rear eye membranes remains behind. If enough of this tissue is present, secretion of fluid can continue and chronic oozing from the incision can be a problem. If this is excessive, the eye socket may require a second surgery to be fully cleaned out.

Both these complications are very rare.

What Limitations will the Pet Have?

As long as the other eye is visual, there are not likely to be any serious handicaps. The pet will not be able to see on the enucleation side and may bump into objects there. The pet may be easily startled when approached from that side. Otherwise, once healing is complete, life can return to normal.

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981