Jump to section

What is Enucleation?

Enucleation is the surgical removal of the eye. Enucleation surgery is the irreversible and permanent solution for various eye disorders. Enucleation in cats is performed when all other medical options have proven ineffective in order to alleviate pain and give the feline a better quality of life. Enucleation surgery is performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. 

The veterinary ophthalmologist can approach enucleation surgery in two ways; transconjunctival or transpalpebral. The transconjunctival approach to enucleation has the advantage of reducing orbital tissue loss, subsequent orbital sinking, less hemorrhaging and a faster procedure time overall. In a transconjunctival surgery, the veterinarian ophthalmologist will only remove a portion of the eye’s orbit. WIth the transpalpebral approach, the entire eye globe is removed including the elements within the conjunctival sac (nictitating membrane, conjunctiva, eyelids). The veterinary eye specialist may choose to take the transpalpebral approach if the eye is unsalvageable. 

Enucleation Procedure in Cats

The patient’s vital signs are taken before induction of pre-anesthetic drugs are administered. General anesthesia is started after sedation is achieved through injectable tablet induction. The fur surrounding the affected eye is shaved to the midline. The upper eyelashes are trimmed with fine scissors and douched with ointment to prevent lashes from falling into the eye’s orbit. Tape is applied directly to the skin to remove fine hairs. 

  1. The periocular skin, corneal surface and the conjunctival fornix is prepared with a 1:50 povidone-iodine solution. 
  2. The patient’s head is placed in lateral or semi dorsal recumbency with the palpebral fissures aligned parallel to the floor. 
  3. The endotracheal tube is reinforced to avoid anesthetic complications. 
  4. The eyelids may be sutured shut if the globe is infected. Any suture material may be used, as the sutures begin from one corner of the eyelid to the other, close to the meibomian glands. 
  5. A No. 5 scalpel blade is used to cut around the eye. 5 mm thick elliptical incisions will be made away from the eyelid margins, joining the incisions at the lateral and medial canthus. 
  6. An Allis tissue forceps or towel clamp will be used to grasp the incised eyelid margins. 
  7. Blunt dissections will be made using a Metzenbaum scissor, alternating from side to side until approaching the sclera. 
  8. Using a No.15 scalpel blade, the medial and lateral canthal ligaments are transected.   
  9. Hemorrhaging is controlled and the orbital rim is identified.
  10. The posterior ciliary arteries and optic nerve are clamped, or ligated. These structures are severed through use of a curved Metzenbaum scissor. 
  11.  A plane of dissection is made using Metzenbaum scissors to release the globe from the orbital tissues that remain in the orbital rim. 
  12. The dissected globe is removed and handed off to a veterinary technician to prepare for histological laboratory submission. (Important for detecting life-threatening disease).
  13. The veterinary ophthalmologist will return to the orbital opening, dissecting the periocular tissue from the sclera. 
  14. The eye socket will be packed with gauze, applying light pressure for 5+ minutes to encourage a clot to form. Excessive bleeding may be ligated and synthetic hemostasis products may be applied to halt unsourced bleeding. 

  15. A sterile silicone orbital prosthesis will be placed in the orbit. The veterinarian will trim the prosthetic to size. (only used in non-neoplastic or infectious conditions) 
  16. Using 3-0 or 4-0 monofilament polyglyconate synthetic, absorbent sutures, the orbit will be closed with a minimum of three layers. The last layers of sutures will be using a 3-0 absorbable braided or monofilament type. 
arrow-up-icon

Top

Efficacy of Enucleation in Cats

Enucleation surgery is a permanent solution for unresponsive eye conditions. Removing the painful, infected, necrotic, damaged, or cancerous eye completely will ideally eliminate the problem, as well as preventing the condition from spreading.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Enucleation Recovery in Cats

The surgical site will be protected following surgery, as the feline will be sent home with an Elizabethan collar to wear at home until healing is complete. Mild swelling, inflammation and bruising around the suture site are to be expected. Blood may protrude from the nose occasionally as the tear ducts are connected to the inner nostrils. Epistaxis (bloody nose) symptoms will diminish approximately two to four days post-op. Careful monitoring is essential following surgery, as trauma to the suture site can cause adverse effects. Sutures are typically removed about seven to 10 days post-op, however, the feline’s whiskers will not regrown for six to eight weeks. Cats without whiskers are prone to becoming imbalanced and must be monitored to stay protected. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Enucleation in Cats

An enucleation surgery for a feline can cost approximately $200 to $1,000. Preoperative and postoperative care should be taken into consideration for the total price.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cat Enucleation Considerations

Removal of one eye can be a concern to cat owners, as partial vision will be lost. The majority of felines respond very well to partial blindness and continue regular activities quickly.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Enucleation Prevention in Cats

Enucleation surgery is often used for feline eye conditions that have unknown causes and prevention is not always possible. Preventing eye trauma is ideal and seeking veterinary attention when a problem is noted will be a step in the right direction. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Enucleation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

persian

dog-age-icon

Eleven Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Discharge

My cat had eye Enucleation surgery over a month ago. His incision was completely healed. This morning there is some bloody discharge weeping from his eye. Is this normal?

Oct. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If there was a little bit of tissue left that is secreting any kind of fluid, that might explain what you're seeing. Whether it is something that needs to be fixed or whether it is something that you just need to keep clean is something that your veterinarian may have to tell you, as they can see the eye and the discharge. The only thing that I can think that might be a problem otherwise is if there is some kind of growth, and an ultrasound might be able to tell your veterinarian that.

Oct. 28, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Iris

dog-breed-icon

domestic medium hair

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Discharge

I adopted a cat that had her left eye enucleated as a kitten because of an injury and infection as a result of the injury. They eye has been sewn shut but occasionally will produce a brownish dishcharge. It doesn’t seem to cause her pain or bother her, should I be concerned about the discharge?

Sept. 25, 2018

Iris' Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Kitten

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

1 Month

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Large Eye, Swelling, Bleeding, Runswater

How much would it cost to remove an eye in a 3 month old kitten? I know it depends where but an estimation would help. Also we have been doing drops and oral meds but she has herpes most likely vet said eye needs to be removed. What would she need done prior to surgery to insure she is ready and can make it through ok.Also runt of litter and has ringworm and flea. Very curious and playful good appetite. She is currently on dermolizide and tobramycin eye drops. Genteal tears gel. Clavamox oral and a pill for herpes.

Aug. 15, 2018

Kitten's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

4 Recommendations

You didn’t mention country, but in the USA the cost of enucleation may be as low as $355 at a low cost clinic (like the one linked below for an example) or over $1,000 if performed at a specialist center. There is no specific preparation for this surgery, but the Veterinarian performing the surgery will examine the kitten prior to surgery and will give you instructions if required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.helpinghandsvetva.com/procedures-pricing/

Aug. 15, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Demothi

dog-breed-icon

Bengal

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Small Eye Puncture That Scabbed

My 3mo. Old kitten was playing with his brother and his brother's nail caught left eye of his bro. Leaving a small puncture that scabbed being treated with Tobramycin drops starts to look better, but my vet tomorrow wants to prep him to take eye, as the drops could take over a month to work on eye. Is there any other meds or option than removal, I fell it is the easy way out as it does not bother him at all and is starting to look a little better. A drop are every 4 hours is what he is getting now.

Aug. 14, 2018

Demothi's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3 Recommendations

Without examining Demothi I cannot really weigh in, if your Veterinarian feels that enucleation is the appropriate course of action I cannot legally advise against without an in person examination; if you don’t agree with your Veterinarian you should visit another Veterinarian in your area for a second opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Ray

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

11 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Discharge
Drainage

In June we adopted a kitten that had recently had both eyes removed from a rescue. It’s one week shy of being two months from his surgery and there is still a small opening where each eye was. Also he is still having some discharge. Generally it is thin and clear a slight yellow tint. Every now and then though it is a thick, opaque cloudy yellow. The vet who did his surgery says the holes are to allow for draining and that discharge can be normal for awhile. He lets me clean his face and does not show any signs of being in pain when I’m close to either site. He has not ran a fever and he eats/drinks, plays, etc just like any other normal 11 wk old kitten. Is drainage for this long normal? Should we consider seein another vet?

Aug. 7, 2018

Ray's Owner


answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Drainage may occur for a while as fluid does accumulate in the orbit since there is little soft tissue present, fluid may drain for a while and it is important that it is able to drain. Keep an eye on the drainage holes and if the fluid becomes thick, discoloured, smelly or anything else concerning return to your Veterinarian; if you have other concerns visit another Veterinarian for peace of mind. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 7, 2018

my cat has a runny stuffy nose after having her eye removed is this normal

Sept. 1, 2018

Jacky L.

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Leila

dog-breed-icon

Mix

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

I rescued my kitten off a road last year. She had a very bad eye infection. The vet said she had no eyes and was probably born without them. She said the infection came from the eyelids being inverted and would need a double enucliation. The second vet said there was no need since there was no eyes and the antibiotics cleared up the weeping/swelling. Fast forward and a year later she has contant weeping and smelly discharge. She eats, sleeps, and uses her litterbox just fine. The vet says surgery is an option to take off the eyelashes and look for any eye that may be inside. She often paws at her eyes and sneezes. After this last round of antibiotics, symptoms returned immediately. I want what is best for her whether that be surgery or another option. I know it is a complicated surgery. Any advice is appreciated for my Leila.

dog-name-icon

Jinx

dog-breed-icon

DDOMESTIC Shorthair

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Pain
Tears

MY 9 YEAR OLD CAT (TOM WITH FIV) Had chronic conjunctivitis that took 2 weeks to clear up each occurrence..after 6 months of this one of his eyeball was not responding to treatment of drops and within a month he developed the most severe case of ulcer , became blind and was about to rupture within 2 weeks of last seeing the vet. We had to immediately remove eyeball to prevent rupturing and if not removed would eventually cause systemic shock and die per vet.it was so bad you could see a bubble on the lense which is a huge indicator it will rupture within at least 3 days per vet. We had him neutered at surgery and he is on metacam and azithromicin for next 2 weeks and post op day 2 is acting like his old self. Cost of eye removal was 350.00 for us. If you see this with your cat immediately take to vet especially if you have a cat with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

dog-name-icon

Vision

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Jumping

My cat was an orphan. He had massive infections in both eyes causing one eye to rupture. We just had that eye removed about 2 weeks ago. Now that he’s stitches are out and he’s 1 week of being out of he’s cone he is going crazy! Won’t let anyone near him. He has scratched me to death. He was very loving! Wanted to follow me around the house and always wanted to be picked up to attacking when anyone is near him. He went from laying on my stomach letting me pet him to spazzing out and won’t stop! Has anyone had this go on?

dog-name-icon

Robert

dog-breed-icon

Seal point tabby

dog-age-icon

7 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

#Robert is a 7 month old male flame point mix. I brought him home at 8 days old with his three orange and white tabby brothers. Unfortunately his tiny brothers died of pnumonia. Fast forward though the routine steps taken, a diagnosis of FHV. His eye was also infected. Nothng we did made his eye get better. He had eye removal surgery. Now he is a happy normal plaful curious 7 month old. He still sneezes ALOT. When he does, he claws at his face and very large hard boogers and long bits of clear snot comes out - truly sorry for the description. Nostril is under missing eye. Any thoughts?

dog-name-icon

Boo-boos

dog-breed-icon

Part Maine Coone

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Carmel Colored Discharge

My 13yr old long haired cat had his left eye removed 1 week ago. I noticed swelling at the site 2 days ago. Today he had what looked like carmel oozing from the eye. I called the E.R. where he was evaluated & they said to put warm compress on it until I can get him to his surgeon. If he seems in distress, to bring him in immediately. What is happening?

Need pet insurance?