Accidents, cancer or even genetic issues can leave people with one eye, rather than two. This means they need to constantly adapt their situation to any challenges this creates.
It also means that they have to be especially conscious of anything that could impact negatively on the health and functioning of their remaining eye.
If you are missing an eye, it is recommended that you take steps to keep your empty eye socket healthy too.
Born without an eye
Did you know there is a medical term for when a child is born with one or both eyes absent? It’s called anophthalmia.
When both the eyeball and the connecting tissues are missing, it leaves behind the small, bony cavity. It can be too small to house a prosthetic, in which case it is generally surgically closed over.
Anophthalmia is a very rare genetic condition. Modern technology means that it can be detected in babies before they are born.
There are various types of this illness, including ones in which the eye starts to form normally but then stops. This can result in having an eyeball that it not connected by tissue to the brain, or having an eye too small to function properly.
Surgery to remove an eye
A missing eye is more commonly the result of surgery to remove it, when it is impossible to repair. Or, to treat cancer. The term you may hear used for this surgery is enucleation.
Whenever possible, the eyelid and socket are left intact. Once healed from surgery, the bony eye socket may be suitable to house a prosthetic (artificial) eyeball. Though no vision is possible, having a prosthetic eye can make people feel less self-conscious.
Advances in artificial eyes
During surgery, it’s sometimes possible to place an orbital implant in the cavity. This is a system to mimic the muscles of the eye. When an artificial eye is placed in the socket, the implant can move it around to look and feel similar to a natural eye.
Modern manufacturing techniques also mean that a prosthetic eye can appear almost identical to the functioning one, in colour and shape.
Surgeons can help to prepare your eye socket for an artificial eyeball, including ensuring it doesn’t start to close up while healing from your operation.
To keep the eye socket healthy, it is vital to keep the prosthetic eye clean and follow all the instructions that come with it.
This includes having regular medical checks.