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Eye Removal Surgery


What you need to know about eye removal surgery:

Eye removal surgery is used to remove the entire eyeball. The surgery is also called enucleation. Eye removal surgery is used to treat eye cancer, a serious infection or injury, or pain from blindness. You may be able to receive an artificial eye 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. The eye will be made to match your other eye.

How to prepare for surgery:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. He may tell you to stop taking anticoagulants a few days before your surgery.

What will happen during surgery:

  • You may be given a shot of medicine to numb the area if you will be awake for the surgery. You may instead be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your healthcare provider will cut muscles and tissues attached to your eyeball. He will hold the eyeball still while he cuts the optic nerve. The optic nerve attaches the back of the eye to the socket. He will then remove the eyeball.
  • An implant shaped like your eye will be placed into the eye socket. The implant will help keep the shape of your eye within your eyelids. If you will receive an artificial eye, it will be placed over the implant. The implant will be attached to muscles that move the eyeball. This will allow the artificial eye to move with your other eye.

Risks of eye removal surgery:

You may bleed more than expected during surgery, or develop a blood clot. The clot can break free and cause a life-threatening stroke or heart attack. Your stitches may come apart and expose parts of your eye that are still healing. Exposure can lead to serious infection. You may also develop an infection within the eye socket that can spread to your blood. You may have long-term trouble with the peripheral (side) vision in your other eye. You may think you feel pain in the eye that was removed. This is called phantom pain and may continue for several years after surgery.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have signs of infection, such as a fever, red or warm skin, or pus in the wound.
  • Your artificial eye is bulging.
  • You have new or sudden pain in the surgery site.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have trouble accepting your new appearance.
  • You have phantom pain that makes it hard to do your normal activities.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics prevent or fight a bacterial infection. You may need to take this medicine for up to a week after your surgery. You may be given antibiotic drops or ointment to use for up to a month after your surgery.
  • Steroid drops reduce inflammation. You may need to use these drops for up to a month after your surgery.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Apply ice as directed:

Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Apply an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Wrap it in a towel and put it over the surgery area for as long and as often as directed.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care for your wound as directed:

Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Eye Removal Surgery (Ambulatory Care)

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