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The indications for enucleation have changed significantly over the past 60 years. We conducted a clinicopathologic study of enucleated globes to determine how and why the indications for enucleation have changed over time.


This retrospective review examined the pathology reports for 3,264 enucleated globes submitted to the Doheny Eye Institute between 1950 and 2006. Three years per decade were examined to generate a representative pool of specimens for each decade. Although the data for the 2000s were only available up to 2006, the data for this decade are drawn from 3 sample years as are all other decades. Pathology reports were reviewed for demographic information (age, sex, and ethnicity), clinical history prior to enucleation, and pathologic findings and diagnoses. Specimens were grouped according to the reason for enucleation into the following categories: atrophic/phthisis bulbi, congenital, glaucoma, infection, longstanding retinal detachment, trauma, tumor, uveitis, and other.


During the study period, there were 3,264 enucleated globes. Overall, the total number of enucleations decreased over time from a peak of 1,014 in the 1960s to 275 in the 2000s. Glaucoma was the most common reason for enucleation during the 1950s (23%, 127 globes) and 1960s (31%, 315 globes). However, glaucoma steadily decreased over the following decades, and was responsible for only 8% (23 globes) of enucleations in the 2000s. Neovascular glaucoma (including glaucoma secondary to retinal vein occlusion and diabetic neovascularization) accounted for 21% (27 globes) of enucleations in the 1950s. By the 2000s, this number was 57% (13 globes). Trauma-related glaucoma accounted for 34% (43 globes) of all enucleations due to glaucoma in the 1950s, and 0% (0 globes) in the 2000s. Enucleation of globes with intraocular neoplasms accounted for 14% (79 globes) of total enucleations in the 1950s, 33% (120 globes) in the 1990s, and 51% (141 globes) in the 2000s. Uveal melanoma was the main intraocular neoplasm in the 1950s (77%, 60 globes), and retinoblastoma was the primary tumor in the enucleated globes of the 2000s (69%, 97 globes).


Improved medical and surgical treatment of conditions that lead to end-stage eye disease have led to a decrease in total enucleated globes. This is particularly evident for glaucoma. Changing demographics in Los Angeles and referral patterns are most likely responsible for the increase in retinoblastoma. The absolute number of enucleations secondary to neoplasms has not decreased over time, despite an increase in globe-conserving treatments such as chemotherapy and radioactive plaques.

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This study was supported in part by NIH grant EY 03040.

We would like to thank Laurie Dustin of the University of Southern California for her assistance with the statistical analysis of this data.

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Correspondence to Narsing A. Rao.

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There is no conflict of interest for any author.

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Supported in part by NIH grant EY 03040

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Setlur, V.J., Parikh, J.G. & Rao, N.A. Changing causes of enucleation over the past 60 years. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 248, 593–597 (2010).

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