This week's question comes from Theresa Milstein.
I'm writing about a thirteen-year-old who loses her eye when it gets poked by a scissor. If none of the surrounding bones are damaged, what would happen at the hospital afterwards? Would she need to wait to get a glass eye? If so, for how long? How would she care for her eye both without and with a glass eye?
If the eye suffers enough trauma that it's not salvageable, then the character would need surgery to have the eye removed (it's called enucleation). Her eye would be packed with a dressing, she could take tylenol for pain, and might be given some antibiotics to take. Her eyelids will be puffy and bruised. In six days, the dressing would be removed from inside the eye socket. At that time, if the swelling is down, she'd be given topical antibiotics to use.
Within 2-6 weeks of surgery, she would go for a fitting of a prosthetic eye. After a final fitting she'd be set to go with her new eye. The eye willl need to be cleaned daily with soap and water, and be polished every few months. The socket requires very little care, from what I've read.
There is a newer type of prosthetic eye that is quite different. With the above prosthesis, it won't move or look around like a normal eye does. (People with the traditional type of prosthetic often learn to move their heads to look at extreme angles, in order to keep both eyes parallel and normal in appearance.) The newest kind is an orbital implant. (image from Bio-Eye)They take an eyeball-sized piece of material made of a bioprosthetic material similar to bone. It's placed in the eye socket at the time of surgery and the muscles for eye movement are sutured to it. After about 4 weeks, the body grows tissue over this prosthetic, and then a removable sliver of a plastic prosthesis (that looks like the white of the eye and the iris) is attached to the implant. So the person can look all around like a normal eye. Of course the person can't truly see, though. The plastic layer has to be removed once in a while to be cleaned (2-3 x per week, and polished every few months).
As I was writing this post, I came across something called Phantom Eye. I posted once about phantom pain, in which a person feels sensations in the place of a lost limb. Occasionally, after the loss of an eye, patient will sometimes have visual hallucinations (usually fuzzy shapes and colors) and eye pain.
I can't help but think how a lost eye could be a great idea for a Sci-Fi plot. Imagine a lost eye that can see beyond your world! But then I remembered that this was kinda of covered in Toy Story 3, with Mrs. Potato Head's all-seeing eye she left in Andy's room.
Oh well. Those Pixar people are so darned clever.
Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice!
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