Prosthetic Eye for Dogs

The canine prosthetic eye can be used when the eye must be removed for medical reasons such as glaucoma or cancer. Inserting a prosthetic eye keeps your dog's eye socket from taking on a sunken appearance, and some types of prosthetic eye can even look just like your dog's original eye. Prosthetic eyes for dogs are purely cosmetic; your dog can get along just fine without a prosthetic eye, but many owners don't like the idea of a one-eyed dog with a sunken eye socket. Here's what you should know about the use of prosthetic eyes for dogs.

Eye Removal in Dogs

The process of surgically removing a dog's eye is known as enucleation. Enucleation simply means surgically removing the whole eye; it's a way to treat a number of different serious eye problems. If your dog's eye is removed, he will, of course, lose the use of the eye. A prosthetic eye can improve your dog's appearance post surgery, but it can't help him regain lost eyesight.

Reasons why your dog might need an eye surgically removed include:

  • Severe glaucoma
  • Cancer of the eye
  • Birth defects of the eye
  • Inflammations or infections of the eye that have not responded well to treatment
  • Diseases behind or within the eye

Enucleation is a last resort surgical option to treat the pain associated with many eye problems, and to keep some problems, like cancer and certain diseases, from spreading. Often, dogs have already lost sight in the eye before it's removed. Most dogs adjust well to having an eye removed.

Types of Prosthetic Eyes for Dogs

There are two types of prosthetic eyes available for dogs. An orbital prosthesis is a sterile black ball that fills your dog's eye socket. Your vet will suture the eyelids closed over the prosthesis. Your dog will never be able to open or use that eye again, but the socket will retain a normal appearance, as if the eyelids were merely shut.

An intrascleral prosthesis is particularly suited to those dog owners who are concerned about cosmetic appearance. To insert an intrascleral prosthesis, your vet will eviscerate, or empty, your dog's eyeball and insert the prosthesis inside of it. Because the original outer structures of the eye remain, your dog will be able to blink his prosthetic eye and move the prosthetic eye around, so it will appear almost normal.

The intrascleral prosthesis is a grey, sterile ball. It will not restore any of your dog's eyesight.

Some Dogs May Not Qualify for Prosthetic Eyes

Not all dogs are considered good candidates for prosthetic eye surgery. Dogs who have lost their eye due to eye cancer are a prime example, since the cancer may reappear in the eye socket after enucleation. Some dogs may have shallow eye sockets that make the insertion of a prosthetic eye impossible.

However, most dogs who have suffered severe glaucoma or other eye diseases are good candidates for prosthetic eyes. You'll need to see a veterinary opthalmologist to have a prosthetic eye fitted in your dog.