What Is Eye Socket Expansion Therapy?

The congenital defects anophthalmia—in which babies are born missing one or both eyes—and microphthalmia—which causes a baby’s eyes to be abnormally small—are rare. Only one in 7,000 babies suffers from microphthalmia, while one in 30,000 babies is born with anophthalmia.

Even though they’re uncommon, these conditions must be treated right away. The best way to treat them is with eye expansion therapy.

Eye socket expansion, also known as conformer therapy, is a medical procedure in which patients are fitted with clear plastic stents to eventually develop the eye socket and fit it with a prosthetic eye. We gradually increase the size of the stents over the years to ensure the socket grows as large as it would if the patient didn’t have a congenital disability.

Who are candidates for eye expansion therapy?

Conformer therapy is typically used for children with anophthalmia and microphthalmia to expand the tissue and bones around the eye socket and eyelids as the children grow. Our eye sockets and eyelids grow as we age in relation to our eyes. If the eyes start abnormally small or are missing entirely, the eye socket and eyelids won’t grow as they should.

Adults with mild to severe socket contraction can also benefit from this therapy, and some ocularists recommend it after an enucleation or evisceration surgery. However, performing extensive conformer therapy after surgery can cause more complications, so doctors must be careful when prescribing eye socket expansion.

When should therapy begin?

Children born with anophthalmia and microphthalmia should begin treatment as soon as recommended by a doctor. As any parent knows, children grow quickly, and starting therapy sooner rather than later helps ensure the eye socket is able to fully expand.

Missing that window of opportunity to begin therapy could mean that the eye socket never reaches its full growth, which poses a problem when it’s time to get a prosthetic eye.

What happens after the socket is expanded?

Speaking of a prosthesis, that’s the next step after the eye socket has grown. Once the socket is deemed large enough for a prosthesis, the patient consults with an ocularist to have their replacement eye made. Nowadays, specialists use advanced technologies and high-quality materials to craft prostheses that look identical to the patient’s working eye.

How should you clean the eye socket?

Whether you or your child are in the middle of eye socket expansion therapy or have already completed therapy and are wearing a prosthetic eye, you’ll need to take great care in cleaning out your eye socket.

Cleaning an eye socket is as easy as wiping it with a clean washcloth and warm water. While doing so, be sure to wash the eyelids and eyelashes as well. Some slight drainage is normal, but just be sure to wipe it away using a fresh tissue.

Talk to our team at Hetzler Ocular Prosthetics Inc. today

For the best eye socket expansion therapy and highest quality prostheses, come see us at Hetzler Ocular Prosthetics Inc. We specialize in pediatrics, and we’re looking forward to treating your children.