It is quite a difficult ordeal for dog owners to come to accept the fact that their beloved dog has lost use of an eye. Depending on the cause, veterinarians may recommend removing the whole eye to reduce pain as seen in glaucoma, or, in the case of cancer, to prevent it from spreading. This procedure is technically called ‘enucleation’ which simply means ‘removal of the eye’. Many dog owners may be concerned about the cosmetic appearance of their dog after such surgery takes place. If the dog undergoes a simple enucleation, normally the veterinarian will remove the eye and then suture the eyelids shut. This leaves the dog looking as if its eye is always closed, however, with time, because the eye socket is empty, the area may appear ‘sunken in’. This may not be visually appealing.
In order to avoid the appearance of a ‘sunken eye’ there are a few options for those concerned about their dog’s appearance after surgery. This comes courtesy of the many technological advances in the veterinary field. There are now prosthetic eyes available for dogs among which some may be even quite sophisticated.
Enucleation and Orbital Prosthesis
If you are put off by enucleation and are concerned about the way your dog will look without eyes, this may be an option. In this case, a black prosthetic ball replaces the eye efficiently filling the empty socket. The eyelids are then sutured shut on top of it. This procedure prevents the ‘sunken eye’ appearance, as mentioned.
Evisceration and Intrascleral Prosthesis
For dog owners particularly concerned about their dog’s appearance after having the eye removed, the Intrascleral Prosthesis is something to consider. The eye’s contents are basically emptied and a grey prosthetic ball is placed to replace the eye. The advantage of this prosthetic eye is that the eyelids are not sutured shut. Instead, the prosthesis will be visible and in some cases, it may even mimic a real eye by both moving and blinking. Obviously, the dog will still not be able to see. This procedure is currently performed at Animal Eye Care based in Bellingham, Washington.
An Important Consideration
It is important to note that not all dogs are good candidates for such eye prosthetics. Dog breeds that have shallow eye sockets or dogs that have lost an eye to cancer may not be able to take advantage of some of these eye prosthetics. However, a good number of dogs that have lost their eye sight to glaucoma or a serious eye injury may be good candidates. A referral with a well known and reputable ophthalmologist is recommended to discuss the options.
- Flickr Creative Comons, Dog with bulging and clouded right eye, by Flickr: Crazy Eye, Dog, CC BY-SA 2.0 –