Lucky, a 9-1/2-year-old golden retriever, had glaucoma. She lost sight in her right eye and it was causing severe pain. Lucky had to have her eye removed, but her family was hesitant for their dog to be one-eyed.
So, Lucky got a new eye. Her diseased eye was removed, and a prosthetic eye was surgically implanted by an animal ophthalmologist. The surgery for her new eye only took about 20 minutes and cost about $300. It cost $1200 to remove Lucky’s diseased eye.
“The dog doesn’t really benefit from the eye, but it makes the owners feel better,” said Gail Golab, associate director of animal welfare for the AVMA in Schaumberg, Ill. “It’s sort of additional stuff that improves the appearance of the animal, but it’s not a procedure that’s done by itself.”
More on Lucky’s new eye after the jump.
Lucky’s prosthetic eye looks normal because the old eye’s clear cornea and the white sclera were left intact, said Susan Carastro, the Deerfield Beach animal ophthalmologist who removed the eye. A veterinary technician likened the procedure to hollowing out a grape and refilling the skin. Because the outside shell was untouched, eye muscles move the prosthetic eye normally.
Carastro made an incision in the eye’s outer shell, removed the insides and popped the round prosthetic inside. Lucky’s implant resembles a black superball.
“It’s not something that is common,” said Carastro, one of only 260 animal eye specialists in the United States. Veterinarians at her practice implanted 25 prosthetic eyes in 2006, mostly in dogs.
An array of colors and sizes make it easy to match a pet’s real eye, too. Prosthetic eyes come in black, blue, green, yellow and white.
“To give it a more realistic appearance, some owners have the cornea tattooed,” Carastro said.