Eye Enucleation

Animal Doctor provides Eye Enucleation Surgery (surgical excision of the eyeball). We accept referrals and provide second opinions.

Description: Enucleation is a surgical procedure to remove the eyeball (globe) from the socket. The eyelids remain and are sutured closed. Eyes are often surgically removed due to untreated glaucoma, ulcers of the cornea, injuries to the eyeball, infections, cataracts, masses, or genetic abnormalities associated with the globe.

Symptoms & What to look for: Symptoms can include swelling of the globe (eyeball), severe pain or discharge associated with the eye, cloudy cornea, and ulcers in the cornea. Blindness, squinting, rubbing the eye on objects, excessive tearing (epiphora), severe discharge, swelling of the globe (eyeball).

How does it happen? There are many disease processes that can lead to enucleation. Some of the more common are: glaucoma (increased eye pressure), uveitis (decreased eye pressure due to inflammation), cataracts, deep corneal ulcers (due to dry eye, infections, traumas), masses in the eye (benign or malignant), infections, and genetic diseases of the eyeball.

Animal Doctor Eye Enucleation
Animal Doctor Eye Enucleation

What questions do we ask?

  • How long have you noticed a problem with the eyes?
  • One or both eyes?
  • What have you noticed? i.e. redness, blinking, holding the eye shut?
  • Any discharge? What color?
  • Coughing or sneezing?
  • Pawing at face/ rubbing on carpet? History of trauma?
  • Previous problems?
  • Have you tried anything at home?
  • Any history of allergies?
  • (Cats only) How often does your cat go outside? Does he/ she go outside on a leash or on a screened in porch?
  • Is the patient on any medications? Include dosage and frequency.

What are the steps we take to treat your pet?

  • There are several diagnostic steps we can take to evaluate the eye
    • Vision testing, using a variety of methods we try to determine if your pet has full, partial, or no vision.
    • Testing for corneal scratches or abrasions using a fluorescein stain and a black light to look for scratches and ulcers on the surface of the eye.
    • Tonometry: This tests the pressure in the eye and is useful when suspecting glaucoma (high pressure) or uveitis (low pressure due to inflammation/infection).
    • Schirmmer Tear Test: this uses small strips of paper to measure the amount of tears produced in 1 minute. This can help diagnose dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca).

Animal Doctor Eye Enucleation potential treatment plans?

Topical Medications/Treatments

  • If the patient has a scratch on the eye antibiotic drops are prescribed.
  • Serum (from the patient’s own blood) is often used to treat severe corneal ulcers.
  • Topical anti-inflammatory medications (Flurbiprofen, Atropine) are often prescribed as well.

Oral Medications

  • Oral nonsteroid anti-inflammatory medications (Deracoxib, Carprofen)
  • Oral antianxiety, nerve pain reliever (Gabapentin)
  • Oral antibiotics if an infection is suspected


  • The enucleation procedure involves surgically excising the globe, the eyelid margins and some of the muscle around the eye. The eyelids are then sutured together to cover the defect and looks quite natural.
  • This procedure will take about 14 days to heal, often with skin sutures placed that will be removed in 12 to 14 days.
  • We control pain with oral anti-inflammatory medications, and occasionally we prescribe antibiotics as well (depending on the reason for the enucleation). We also send an Elizabethan collar home to prevent scratching and rubbing of the incision.

What are the risks if eye enucleation surgery is not performed?

Some of the consequences of leaving a damaged, diseased eye in place are: pain, poor quality of life, infection, and damage to the globe.