Enucleation. (Pronounced ee-NEW-clee-AY-shen).
It’s a much nicer sounding word than “eyeball removal.” But that’s what it is. If you’ve been battling a major eye disease for a while, and the eye is not responding, your veterinarian might have recommended it. We typically recommend removing the eye when it is no longer able to see (so what’s the point really?) and it is a chronic source of pain.
So if an eye is painful, can’t see, why do we want to keep it? Well, we tend to get attached to our pet’s eyeballs. And the thought of removing an eye from a dog or cat, even though it can’t see and is hurting them, is still something that bothers us.
We just don’t want to do it. It will look weird. It’s taking out his EYE for crying out loud!
Well, keep reading. EVERY SINGLE PET OWNER who has had their dog’s or cat’s eye removed tells me three things after the fact:
1- It was the best decision they could have made.
2-They wish they would have not delayed, freaked out about it, and just done it right away.
3 -They have their happy, healthy dog or cat back (And had not realized how much it was affecting them).
Why are they so happy? Well, dogs and cats hide pain. They hide it REALLY well. When there’s glaucoma that responds to nothing, dry eye that hurts all the time, whatever the horrible eye disease, these animals have not only eye pain, but their whole head hurts. Imagine having a severe headache 24/7 for days and days with no relief. When we remove the source of the pain, the eye, the headache is gone. They are a new dog or cat the very next day!
Every owner tells me “I had no idea he was hurting so much, but now he’s running around the yard with his ball, which he hasn’t done in months.” Of course, immediately after surgery, you don’t want them running around, but they sure want to!
What does it look like after the eye is removed? Well, I have pictures to get you through it. It basically looks like the eye is sewn shut. They are perpetually winking! Fluffy dogs, like in my pictures, tend to look cute because the fur just grows over where the eye was. Short-haired dogs, likes boxers or pugs, look like they have the eyed closed and are winking.
The first couple days after surgery, the incision may ooze a little bloody fluid. This is normal, because the body has an empty space it wants to fill! It may even swell to look like an eye is still in there! As the body absorbs the fluid, the surgery site will sink in a little, and be flat with the face, or maybe even concave. This will be more obvious with short haired dogs.
Bottom line – if your vet is suggesting removing your dog’s or cat’s eye, yes, it’s a weird thought, but just do it! Your pet will get his life back!