Surgery for Retinoblastoma

Eye cancer specialists at NYU Langone use enucleation, or eye removal surgery, to treat retinoblastoma tumors that fill more than two-thirds of the eye. This procedure is performed in part because these tumors are more likely to spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes, when a large retinoblastoma tumor causes a blind and painful eye, saving the eye is not an option, and an enucleation is performed using general anesthesia.

Fortunately, surgery to remove the eye decreases the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body and typically cures the cancer.

During enucleation, a temporary implant is placed into the eye socket to fill the space. Five days later, the bandage is removed and a temporary prosthetic eye composed of a synthetic material is placed under the eyelid.

One month after surgery, your child starts the process of being fitted for a more permanent and more visually appealing artificial eye. Designed to look like your child’s other eye, the artificial eye is molded and fitted to ensure proper movement and comfort. After two to three months, a final artificial eye is placed under the eyelid at the doctor’s office.

Managing Side Effects

Children with retinoblastomas that require enucleation typically have no chance of regaining useful vision in the affected eye, as removal of the eyeball means that there is no further chance of vision from that eye. Surgery to remove an eye can affect the growth of bone and other tissue that surround the eye socket, which can create a mild sunken eye appearance.

NYU Langone eye cancer specialists work with support staff to help your family adjust to the physical and emotional effects of surgery for retinoblastoma.

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