Living with eye removal
If you have one or both eyes removed, whatever the reason, you're bound to need time to get used to living with this significant change in your life.
Your eye or eyes should heal and be ready for a prosthesis within a few months, but it can take longer to adjust emotionally to eye removal. You may need to adjust to the loss of vision in both eyes or to relying on just the vision in your remaining eye (monocular vision).
Here’s our support and advice to help while you recover and adjust to life after eye removal.
The impact of living with eye removal
Some people live with an eye condition for some time, so the difficult decision to remove an eye can be anticipated. There's time to prepare and plan.
Others have eye removal surgery due to a traumatic eye injury or eye cancer. This can come as a great shock, without much time to prepare emotionally.
Whatever the reason for needing one or both eyes removed, having a support network around you will help you cope. If you tell friends and family what's happening and how you feel, it can help them better support you. Your healthcare team will also support you and refer you to other services. Something many people find helpful is speaking to other people who've had the same experience, for example, at support groups.
Living with one eye after eye removal
You'll notice some changes to how you see when relying on one eye after eye removal. While your remaining eye and brain learn to compensate, you'll notice:
- It's harder to judge distances (loss of depth perception)
- Some loss of field of vision (known as peripheral vision) on the side of your affected eye
It can be difficult at first, but some practical things will make life easier while you get used to monocular vision:
- Use the handrail when going up and downstairs, as it can be harder to judge the depth of steps and get your footing.
- Try resting the edge of drinks containers and bottles against the cup or glass you're pouring into to help avoid spills.
- Ask people to stay on the side where you're most comfortable. This could be the side with non-affected vision so that you can see them. Or it could be walking on the side of your lost eye to help you avoid obstacles.
- Try turning your head more to compensate for losing some field of vision and the extra blind spots that it creates.
- Take breaks from activities like reading and watching television to avoid possible eyestrain in your remaining eye.
Get more practical ideas that can help you adjust with our guide for independent living skills.
To take extra care of your remaining eye, you can use protective eyewear for activities that could cause eye injuries, like DIY and contact sports.
Keep having regular eye tests with an optometrist to check on your remaining eye. They'll be able to detect any eye conditions, often before you notice any symptoms, and ensure you get the right treatment.
Support for people who've had an eye removed
Adjusting to living with one eye can be emotional, but you don't have to deal with it alone. Sharing your feelings and talking them over can boost your confidence about living with one eye. Your family members might also benefit from understanding more about living with one eye and how to support you.
Living after the removal of both eyes
It can be a very emotional time coming to terms with the loss of both eyes. Whether you were planning the decision for a while, or it happened more suddenly due to illness or injury, it's a lot to deal with.
Sharing your feelings and talking them over can boost your confidence about living with sight loss.
Our Guide Line can help you find support and services such as support groups nearby.
Frequently asked questions
Get in touch
You can contact us to find out about services and support tailored to your individual needs.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.