Common Veterinary Eye Surgeries: Purpose, Procedure, and Potential Risks

Published on Sep 21, 2023 12:00 AM
Common Veterinary Eye Surgeries: Purpose, Procedure, and Potential Risks

Pets are cherished family members. And, just like our human family members, our pets can face different health issues.

Among these, eye problems are some of the most commonly seen health problems. While treatments vary based on severity, some eye issues will require surgical intervention.

Here, we will review a few common animal eye procedures.

We will discuss the purpose of each veterinary eye surgery, the procedure involved, and its potential risks.

To gain valuable insights, keep reading! 

Blepharoplasty Surgery (Eyelid Lift Surgery)


Blepharoplasty or eyelid lift surgery is a common veterinary procedure performed on animals, especially brachycephalic breeds, including:

  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Boxers

The primary purpose of this veterinary eye surgery is to correct entropion or ectropion, conditions where the eyelids roll inward or outward respectively. 

These conditions can cause:

  • Discomfort
  • Irritation
  • Damage to the cornea, if left untreated

Blepharoplasty surgery aims to restore the normal position of the eyelids, ensuring that the eyelashes and eyelids do not rub against the eye surface.


The procedure typically begins with the administration of anesthesia.

After that, the veterinarian will carefully mark the areas of the eyelids that need correction. 

For entropion, a section of the affected eyelid is surgically removed and the remaining tissues are sutured together to evert the eyelid's margin. 

In the case of ectropion, the vet excises the excess skin to reduce the outward rolling of the eyelid.

This veterinary eye surgery requires precise incisions and suturing to position the eyelid correctly. 

Once the procedure is complete, the vet may recommend eye ointments or drops to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection.

Additionally, your pet should be monitored during recovery to ensure no complications occur.

Potential Risks:

While blepharoplasty is generally considered safe, potential risks are associated with all animal surgeries. 

Common complications include:

  • Incision site infection
  • Suture reactions
  • Wound dehiscence

Additionally, the eyelid position may not be perfect after surgery, and further adjustments might be necessary.

Pet owners must follow post-operative care instructions diligently and schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the healing process. 

By doing so, they can minimize the risks and ensure their pets recover as smoothly as possible.

Eyelid Tumor Removal with Reconstruction


Eyelid tumors in pets can be benign or malignant. When left untreated, they can pose significant health complications.

The primary purpose of eyelid tumor removal with reconstruction is to excise the tumor while preserving the functionality and aesthetics of the eye. 

This veterinary eye surgery aims to:

  • Prevent tumor growth
  • Reduce discomfort
  • Minimize the risk of metastasis if the tumor is malignant


Eyelid tumor removal for dogs is a surgical procedure that begins with administering anesthesia to ensure the pet's comfort.

To determine the extent of excision, the vet surgeon will carefully examine the size, location, and nature of the tumor.

Once the tumor is removed, the surgeon will reconstruct the eyelid to maintain its proper function and appearance.

Reconstruction methods vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. 

For instance, more complex techniques like a sliding skin flap or grafting may be necessary for severe defects to ensure the eyelid retains its function and form.

Potential Risks:

As with any surgery, there are potential risks associated with eyelid tumor removal with reconstruction. 

The possible complications involve:

  • Infection at the surgical site
  • Poor wound healing
  • Cosmetic imperfections 

Additionally, there is a risk of tumor recurrence if the tumor is not entirely excised.

To reduce these risks, pet owners should closely follow the post-operative care instructions provided by the veterinarian.

Distichia Removal Surgery: 


Distichia is a condition in which an extra row of eyelashes grows along the eyelid's margin. 

It often leads to:

  • Eyelash rubbing against the eye's surface
  • Discomfort
  • Irritation
  • Potential corneal damage

Distichia removal surgery eliminates these abnormal eyelashes.


Like other animal surgeries, distichia removal begins with anesthesia to keep the pet calm during the procedure. 

The veterinarian will then carefully examine the affected eyelid to identify the distichia and plan their removal.

The removal process involves making a small incision along the eyelid's margin and carefully extracting the extra eyelashes. 

The incision is then closed with sutures. 

Potential Risks:

Distichia removal surgery is generally considered a safe and effective procedure. 

However, there are potential risks, including:

  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Recurrence of distichia

Pet owners need to follow post-operative care instructions, which may include the use of eye ointments or drops.

Enucleation: The Most Common Veterinary Eye Surgery 


Enucleation surgery is a procedure where the entire eyeball is removed from its socket. 

Surgeons perform this veterinary eye surgery when a pet has a severely diseased or painful eye and it’s impossible to treat through other means. 

Common reasons for enucleation include:

  • Severe glaucoma
  • Advanced ocular tumors
  • Extensive trauma to the eye


Once the pet is anesthetized, the surgeon carefully removes the eyelids and surrounding tissues to access the eyeball. 

The optic nerve is then severed, and the eyeball is removed. 

In some cases, vets may insert an orbital implant to maintain the eye socket's shape and facilitate the fitting of a prosthetic eye.

Pain management and antibiotics may be prescribed to promote healing and prevent infection.

Potential Risks:

Enucleation surgery is generally safe and well-tolerated by pets, but it does carry some potential risks. 

These include:

  • Infection at the surgical site
  • Bleeding
  • Wound dehiscence, where the incision opens up

Additionally, some pets may experience complications related to the anesthesia.

While removing an eye may seem daunting, enucleation can significantly improve a pet's quality of life.

In Conclusion!

A necessary veterinary eye surgery significantly improves the quality of life for pets with a particular eye condition. 

While these animal surgeries have potential risks, they are safe when performed by skilled veterinarians. 

Pet owners should be proactive in seeking veterinary care for eye issues and closely follow post-operative care instructions.

Explore our blog section for more guides on veterinary procedures and animal health solutions.

And—if you’re a vet professional or student looking for free CE, visit Vet and Tech’s webinar page now.


What Is The Recovery Time After Blepharoplasty Surgery?

The recovery time for blepharoplasty varies but usually ranges from 1 to 2 weeks. To ensure a smooth recovery, following post-operative care instructions is essential.

Is Ectropion Surgery A Permanent Solution For My Pet's Eyelid Problem?

Ectropion surgery can provide long-lasting relief, but in some cases, the condition may recur. Close monitoring and prompt veterinary care can address any recurrence effectively.

Can My Pet See Normally After Enucleation Surgery?

Yes, after Enucleation surgery, pets can still lead happy, fulfilling lives. Their overall quality of life usually improves if the surgery is performed to relieve pain or treat severe eye conditions.