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Loss of an Eye and Ocular Prosthetics

If you or someone you love is facing the loss of an eye, you are likely also grieving and worried about what is going to happen. At Fante Eye & Face Centre in Denver, we understand the profound loss that one may encounter as a result of severe eye trauma. Although our particular expertise lies in reconstructing the eye as needed after removal, we are also dedicated to assisting our patients in handling the emotional aspects of their situation.

Losing an eye can have a significant impact on a person’s self-confidence and overall self-image. On a physical level, the patient faces the transition into monocular (single-eye) vision as well as cosmetic changes. On an emotional level, the loss of an eye can lead to feelings of insecurity and isolation. We pride ourselves on helping our patients stay connected to their hope for future wellbeing after eye surgery. Many people who undergo eye removal and subsequent prosthesis fitting continue to enjoy a full life, including employment in their chosen field. It is our hope that, in working with Dr. Fante and our team, the restoration of a natural appearance supports you in a life you enjoy.

Eye Removal Surgery

Eye removal surgery may be advisable for people with cancer of the eye such as choroidal melanoma. Other reasons for this procedure include unmanageable pain in a blind eye, end-stage glaucoma, uncontrollable infection, and severe trauma to the eye. Removal may also take place for cosmetic reasons if a blind eye has become very disfigured.

Dr. Fante conducts a thorough consultation and examination to determine if you are a candidate for an enucleation or an evisceration procedure. Each type of eye removal is performed to allow reconstruction of the socket utilizing an ocular implant.

During an enucleation surgery, the entire eyeball is removed. Evisceration is more complex, removing the structures within the eyeball including the lens, cornea, iris, retina, and vitreous. What remains is the white of the eye. After evisceration, the implant is placed within this shell. A prosthesis is inserted over the implant once the eye socket has healed.

Is Eye Removal Surgery Painful?

Eye removal can be performed under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. Our priority is ensuring that you are comfortable both emotionally and physically during your procedure as well as after. To achieve this, a local anesthetic may be administered at the end of your procedure to provide longer-lasting comfort after your initial anesthesia wears off.

It is common to develop a headache and nausea after this procedure. This can last a day or two but is typically manageable with a combination of over-the-counter medications, together with appropriate prescription nausea and pain medications to keep you as comfortable as possible as you recover.

If I Lose My Eye, Will I Have a Hole in My Face?

Advances in medicine assure that the loss of an eye does not have to have a severely detrimental impact on a person’s appearance or sense of wellbeing. During enucleation or evisceration surgery, an ocular implant is placed inside the eye socket to restore normal volume, and then later a custom prosthesis is created that looks very much like a normal eye and restores the natural contours of the face.

Will I Need to Have Another Surgery Before I Can Wear a Prosthetic Eye?

After a typical enucleation or evisceration to remove an eye, an implant is placed and no further surgery is needed to successfully wear a prosthetic eye.

For more complex situations in which previous trauma or surgery has led to significant scarring, the socket in which the artificial eye will be placed may need to be reconstructed. The purpose of eye socket reconstruction is to prepare tissue for the best acceptance of the ocular prosthetic. Dr. Fante has extensive experience in socket reconstruction even in complex cases of scarring or loss of volume.

There are several reconstructive techniques that may be employed to assist with the preparation for a prosthetic eye. These include fat and mucosal grafting procedures, eyelid reconstruction, and others. When reconstruction of the socket is needed, you can expect to be well-informed of the technique that will best meet your needs.

What Is an Ocular Prosthetic?

An ocular prosthetic is an artificial shell-like structure that is inserted over an ocular implant to restore the natural appearance of the eye. The prosthetic is like a large hard contact lens that is painted to match the iris and sclera color of the remaining eye. We work with very talented prosthetic specialists along Colorado’s front range to help you achieve the best possible appearance and fit.

How Soon After Losing My Eye Can I Use a Prosthetic?

Generally, patients can expect their prosthetic eye to be made 4 to 6 weeks after their initial surgery. The prosthesis is worn over the ocular implant behind the eyelids, and is much like a large contact lens.

Is Wearing an Ocular Prosthetic Painful?

Generally it is not painful at all, and most people wear their eye prosthesis 24/7. A prosthetic eye may become uncomfortable in certain situations, such as tear buildup, infection, allergies, a common cold or dry eye syndrome. We are happy to discuss strategies that can help you manage your prosthesis in ways that effectively minimize the chances of discomfort. As an example, discomfort from dryness can be managed applying lubricating eye drops onto the surface of the prosthetic.

Will My Prosthetic Look Real?

Prosthetic eyes are made to look extremely natural. The sclera and color of your artificial eye can be expected to look just like your natural eye. The prosthetic may also move, though not to the extent of the remaining eye. The pupil of the prosthetic does not move so may sometimes look unequal to the other eye. However, this is usually not noticeable to others.

Is There Any Way to Save an Eye After Trauma Rather Than Removing It?

A number of surgical advances have occurred over the past few decades, including microsurgical techniques. As much as possible, surgeons always attempt to save the injured eye rather than remove it, and saving any remaining vision is always a top priority. Severely injured eyes without useful vision are the only ones that are considered for removal. If an eye has been injured, it is vital to obtain prompt medical care to evaluate the extent of the injury.

Are There Any Risks to Eye Removal Surgery?

Surgical procedures carry inherent risks. It is important to us that you are well informed about your surgery, risks, and the expected outcome. You should also know that our team’s extensive education and experience in handling delicate ocular trauma and surgery is matched by our dedication to providing personal care to each individual. In addition to managing surgical risks such as poor healing, infection, implant extrusion, droopy eyelids, asymmetry, and bleeding, we strive to be the resource our patients need as they transition into life with a prosthetic eye.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are interested in ocular prosthetics, contact our Denver office today! Call (303) 839-1616 to schedule a consultation with facial plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Fante.

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