Tantalum markers & Proton beam therapy


Having recently had the tantalum markers placed in my right eye ( 2nd Feb 2023 ) , I believe that my recent experience may help others to understand what to expect during this procedure & afterwards.

The first point after reading other reviews is that the procedure effects everyone slightly differently.

I was very very nervous concerning the initial tantalum marker operation but the one thing I will say is that you have no need to worry since you are in the care of some of the worlds leading doctors who certainly are experienced in this field of surgery. I was advised to seek a sedative tablet (eg diazepam) to help me relax prior to the operation which I believe helped & was prescribed by my local GP.

On the morning of surgery arriving at the hospital at 07.30, you are quickly checked in, the nurse checks your blood pressure, heart rate, puts drops into the eye that needs surgery etc.  The anaesthetist connects the intravenous line to the top of your hand. One of the doctors comes around & talks you through the consent form, then through the operation which takes approx 75 mins. 

Depending on where you are on the surgeons list will depend on what time your operation is, luckily for me I was first up at 08.45am.

You walk freely to the operating theatre, asked to lay comfortably on the trolley in the theatre & the anaesthetist enters the heavy sedation into your IV line.

Although you will be fully conscious & be aware of sounds from the doctors performing the operation, you will be unable to see what's going on just the sound of talking doctors voices. I felt no pain at all during the operation so please don't be concerned.

After the operation you are wheeled out into the recovery room for around 15 minutes to check that you are ok & then moved back to your ward & offered tea/coffee, sandwich or biscuits.

The eye that had the markers placed is covered over with a diagonal bandage & at this stage you feel no pain.

The nurses regularly check your blood pressure & heart rate throughout the morning & check if you require any pain relief which I did request once early afternoon.

You will be prescribed in my case three types of eye drops, two to be taken three or four times a day for seven days & one type four times a day for four weeks.These are firstly administered the first morning after the operation once you have taken the eye covering off & cleaned your eye. Don't be afraid to take the eye covering off, it's doesn't hurt & shouldn't be stuck to your eye at all.

Because my own operation was early, I was free to leave hospital around 1pm once a family member could escort me home.

However.... word of caution, in & around London people are more concerned with walking along looking at their mobile phones that being aware of bumping into someone who has a rather large eye patch on so be extra careful to avoid these people.

Only during the night I found the eye to be quite painful but by taking paracetamol throughout the night as prescribed, this did help relieve the pain. Pain relief was needed for two days.

Once you uncover the eye the next morning, the eye is fully closed & in my case took four  days to open around 2mm so that you could see a little bit. Progressively day by day the eye opened bit by bit. Like numerous other people have said, it feels at times like grit in certain parts of your eye, try not to rub your eye, just continue to wash regularly with sterile water.

Since the operation, I managed to drive after day 8 of the operation with a bit more care & attention although thinking backwards now, I did find this slightly harder than I thought because the eye vision wasn't 100% & it felt more comfortable at times to actually close the eye that was operated on rather than struggle to have it 80% open.

Since the operation, I have had my mask & mouthpiece made ready for the proton beam radiation which starts on the 27th February some ( just over three weeks after the tantalum markers ) were placed in my eye. Again, nothing to be worried about & very straight forward.

I'll post again once I have had the proton beam radiation so that my own experience may help others.



  • Hello Martynat and welcome to the Cancer Chat community.

    I was just reading through your post and wanted to thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    I have no doubt your very detailed and indepth account of what happens when having tantalum markers placed in your eye will really help others who are waiting to have this done and will make them feel more at ease about the procedure. 

    I'm glad you've had a good recovery and I hope all goes well with your proton beam therapy.

    If you have any questions, you can contact our cancer nurses on 0808 800 4040, Monday - Friday between 9a.m - 5p.m.

    Kind regards,

    Steph, Cancer Chat Moderator

  • Hello M. 
    this is so helpful. Thanks very much. I was planning to pick my son up from uni about four days after getting my markers put in. Guess I’ll have to change plans. The drive is Surrey to Newcastle!! I’m very nervous but it’s so much better knowing exactly what to expect. Hope your treatment all went well. Thankyou.