Enucleation refers to the surgical removal of an eye. This procedure is generally recommended only when there is no other choice. Enucleation is usually performed for several different reasons: to remove a malignant tumor that has developed within the eye; to alleviate intolerable pain in a blind eye affected by a condition such as uncontrollable glaucoma; or to reduce the risk of “sympathetic” inflammation of the remaining eye when one eye has been severely injured and blinded.
The cosmetic artificial eye (ocular prosthesis) is a plastic device that is molded to fit between the eyelids over the conjunctiva that covers the ball implant. The prosthesis is generally made two to six weeks after enucleation, in order to allow the socket tissues time to heal adequately. Prior to that time, a thin plastic plate (conformer) is usually worn in place of the prosthesis. This conformer helps to prevent shrinkage of the space between the inner surface of the lids and the conjunctival covering of the ball implant. Until the ocular prosthesis is fitted, the upper eyelid may be droopy. The prosthesis supports the eyelid and generally allows the lids to open and close normally.