Advances in veterinary medicine means treatments are now available to manage even the most complex of eye conditions. However, some eye problems are progressive and can lead to severe pain or cause issues elsewhere in the body. At this stage we may advise an enucleation (operation to remove the eye).

We understand this is a difficult decision to make and we’re here to guide you through the entire process. Our aim is to restore your pet’s quality of life so they can continue living comfortably with you at home.

When might your pet need an enucleation?

We usually recommended an enucleation if your pet’s eye becomes very painful and treatments are no longer working. If your pet is blind but their eye is comfortable, they don’t need this operation.

The most common reasons for an enucleation are:

  • End stage glaucoma (uncontrollable high pressure causing intense pain within the eye)
  • Neoplasia (a cancerous growth within the eye)
  • Severe injury that can’t be repaired
  • Severe infection or inflammation that doesn’t improve with medication
  • Severe corneal ulceration (non-healing open sores on the clear surface of the eye)

Enucleation surgery at Focus

On the day of surgery, your pet will come in early and we’ll admit them as an inpatient. We fully examine them to check that they’re well enough to proceed. Soon after they arrive, we give a pre-med (medication including pain relief and a mild sedative) to keep them relaxed and comfortable.

Your pet will be asleep under a general anaesthetic during the surgery. Our highly trained nurses monitor them closely throughout.

We clip the fur around your pet’s eye and use a special solution to clean the skin. The surgery involves removing the entire eye including the eyelids. Our experienced ophthalmologists have specialist equipment allowing them to visualise all of the delicate structures around your pet’s eye (blood vessels, nerves and muscles). We then check the orbit (bony hollow where the eye sits in the skull) and stitch the wound together.

Following surgery, your pet moves into our recovery area where we monitor them while they wake up. Your pet will need a buster collar as soon as they wake to prevent them from scratching their face.

After surgery

It can be upsetting when you first see your pet as the area around the surgical wound may look bruised. Despite appearances, your pet will probably already feel much better (imagine sudden relief from a severe migraine.) We always provide your pet with sufficient pain relief to keep them comfortable in the days following surgery.

Initially the surgical site may look swollen but this reduces over time and the overlying skin settles (often sinking slightly into the orbit). We’ll keep in contact with you after surgery but you can call us anytime if you’re worried.

The eye

We often recommended sending your pet’s eye to a veterinary ophthalmic pathologist (a vet who interprets changes within the eye caused by disease). This is especially important if your pet has a tumour within their eye as it helps us plan any future treatment they may need.

Long term

Animals adapt remarkably well after enucleation. Once they resume their normal activities you, and people meeting your pet for the first time, may not notice any difference! Even animals who are completely blind can live happy, full lives.

Please see our 'living with a blind dog or cat' information sheets for advice and helpful tips.

Please contact us if you’d like any further information about enucleation surgery at Focus Referrals.