Enucleation

Enucleation is removal of the eye. It is a form of treatment that allows your eye-cancer specialist to remove your tumor from your body. Unfortunately, patients also lose the vision from that eye. With time, almost all patients are able to do all the things they used to do before losing their eye.

Enucleation is most commonly used to remove large-sized tumors of the eye. This is because the amount of radiation required to kill a tumor which fills most of the eye is just too much for the eye to stand. Within months to years, many patients who are treated with radiation for large ocular melanomas lose vision, develop glaucoma, or have their eye removed anyway.

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This is a patient (looking left) who has completed cosmetic rehabilitation after Enucleation surgery.
Notice that he looks normal but the prosthetic eye does not move as well as a normal eye.

If you are young and/or healthy you may want to have your surgery as an out-patient. Most patients stay in the hospital for at least one night after surgery. Since your surgery will be performed under general anesthesia, you will not feel or see anything until you wake up. Ask your eye-cancer specialist to give extra local anesthesia at the end of your surgery. Then you will have the least pain possible when you wake up in the recovery room. Most patients have a headache for 24-36 hours after surgery which goes away with two regular Tylenol every 4 hours.

Many patients are concerned that the loss of the eye may hurt. But the eye is surrounded by bones, therefore it is much easier to tolerate removal of an eye as compared to loss of a lung or kidney.

Within 2 to 6 weeks of surgery you will be sent for a temporary ocular prosthesis (plastic-eye). Besides the swelling and the “black-eye,” you will look fairly normal. After a final prosthetic fitting 90% of our patients are happy with the way they look, and 80% say others can’t even tell they are monocular. It will take some time to adjust to using one eye, but most patients learn to compensate during the first year after surgery.


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