Prosthetic Eyes

Frequently Asked Questions About Prosthetic Eyes

Until they need one, most people can’t imagine the benefits and confidence prosthetic eyes bring to those who need them. At Artificial Eyes, we’ve seen first-hand the difference an ocular prosthesis can make to a person’s life, and our clients’ happiness encourages us to keep crafting hand-made, life-like prosthetic eyes. As leaders in ocular prosthetics, the Artificial Eyes team hear quite a few questions about our products. We’re here to answer a few of the more commonly asked questions. 

What Are Prosthetic Eyes And How Do They Work?

Prosthetic eyes are a cosmetic treatment option for individuals who have either lost an eye due to traumatic eye injury or illness or those born with microphthalmia or anophthalmia. Prosthetic eyes create a balanced facial appearance, increase comfort in the eye socket where the eye is missing, and restore confidence. People have been making and wearing prosthetic eyes for millennia, and many think of the old fashioned prosthetic glass eye when they think of artificial eyes. Nowadays, ocular prosthetics are usually made from acrylic. Individuals can choose between ‘stock’ eyes which are mass-produced and don’t have a customised fit and colour, or they can visit ocular specialists like the team at Artificial Eyes to have a custom prosthesis made to match their companion eye.

Unlike the old-fashioned glass eyes, modern prosthetic eyes aren’t spherical. Instead, they are a thin, curved, painted acrylic disc designed to look like a natural eye. A round implant is surgically inserted into the eye socket by an ophthalmologist and covered with a tissue called the conjunctiva. Once the implant has healed and settled, the prosthesis can be slipped under the eyelids and onto the implant. The prosthetic eye can be removed, cleaned, and replaced whenever needed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Prosthetic Eyes

Here are answers to just some of the many questions the Artificial Eyes team hear on a regular basis.

  • A scleral/haptic shell is for individuals who still have their natural eye in place. It covers an eye that has become disfigured or has lost vision. 
  • Although most people still refer to artificial eyes as a ‘prosthetic glass eye’, most prosthetics nowadays are made from acrylic. 
  • In most cases, an individual needing a prosthetic eye will have to adapt to monocular vision. This will affect your peripheral vision, balance, and ability to judge distances. However, over time, most people adjust and return to doing the activities they enjoyed before the removal of their eye. 
  • A well-made prosthesis shouldn’t cause any pain. At Artificial Eyes, we take great care and pride in creating custom eyes that feel comfortable to wear. In some cases, it may take an individual a few weeks to adjust to the feeling of their new eye. 
  • On average, we can fit a prosthetic 4-6 weeks after surgery. However, every case is unique, and your ocular specialist will advise you on a timeframe. 
  • You can remove it either with or without a suction cup. 
    • With a suction cup: Wet the cup and squeeze the stem, pressing it against the prosthesis. Relax the squeeze and make sure you’ve got a good grip on the prosthesis. Hold down the lower lid while tilting the prosthesis out and over the lid. 
    • Without a suction cup: Pull down the lower lid with the index finger and allow the prosthesis to slide out over the lower lid. 
  • After the prosthesis is washed with non-abrasive, anti-bacterial soap and hot water, hold the prosthesis between the thumb and middle finger. Lift the upper lid with the other hand and gently slide the top of the prosthesis under the upper lid. Hold the prosthesis in place with the index finger while pulling the lower lid down with the other hand. 
  • This is often a personal choice. We recommend removing it as little as possible to avoid irritation. 
  • It is not necessary to remove an artificial eye when swimming. However, some people prefer to swim without it, so they don’t lose it in the water. 
  • We recommend sleeping with your prosthesis in place. However, this is a personal choice.
  • No, it shouldn’t. It’s our mission to provide a prosthetic eye that looks completely natural and fits perfectly. It should sit in the socket without any risk of it falling out. 
  • Every case is unique, and it will depend greatly on personal circumstance. At Artificial Eyes, we aim to create the best possible movement with a firmly fitting prosthesis which can be activated by the implant and the moving muscles that are still functioning in the socket.
  • After the initial surgery, a socket can take up to 12 months to settle and heal completely.  The implant tends to settle further back in the socket, creating a larger cavity for a prosthesis. This may cause eyelids to close over the prosthesis until a larger one is fitted. After the 12 month settling period, a new eye is usually made every 3-5 years for optimum cosmetic appeal. 
  • The process usually takes two appointments but can sometimes require an additional appointment to make sure the eye fits perfectly. The first appointment takes between 1 and 2 hours, where we’ll take measurements, paint the iris and take photos to help us create the perfect companion eye. The second appointment is where we’ll fit the new eye. It will take around 45 minutes.
  • Wash it with hot water and anti-bacterial soap regularly and bring it into the team at Artificial Eyes for a professional clean and polish once every 6-12 months.

The History Of The Prosthetic Eye

You mightn’t have considered it before, but ocular prosthetics have a rich history spanning back thousands of years.

  • 2,900 BCE. The first evidence we have of humans wearing prosthetic eyes comes from human remains found in South-East Iran. The woman was discovered wearing an ocular prosthesis outside of the eye socket. The prosthesis was spherical and made from clay, covered with a thin layer of gold. Gold thread was passed through small holes drilled into both sides of the eye to hold it in place. Archeologists believe the woman was a priestess.
  • 500 BCE. Egyptian priests were the first documented ocularists, creating their artificial eyes from painted clay attached to a cloth and worn outside the socket. These eyes were worn for religious or aesthetic purposes only.
  • The 1600s. The first in-socket eye prosthesis was made from gold and later Venetian glass. While the artisans developed a material that was tolerable for the eye socket, these early prosthetic glass eyes were very fragile and uncomfortable.
  • The 1800s. For centuries, the Venetians were very protective of their methodology for the manufacture of prosthetic eyes. However, the Parisians and Germans soon developed superior glass-blowing techniques and took over the majority of production. Around this time, high-quality ocular prosthetics were available in America, with materials exported from Germany.
  • The 1900s. During World War 2, the supply of high-quality glass from Germany to America, Britain, and Australia was cut off. New material was needed, so ocularists turned to plastics. Acrylic plastic had been used in dentistry, so the US Navy applied it to the field of ocularistry. This transparent, shatter-resistant material was far superior to the prosthetic glass eye.
  • The 2000s – present day. Today, ocularists manufacture prosthetic eyes from medical-grade acrylic plastic. At Artificial Eyes, we go to great lengths to ensure your prosthesis is perfectly matched with the companion eye. As a result, our custom eyes are of the highest quality and are completely comfortable to wear all day and night.

When You Need Help With Prosthetic Eyes, Contact Artificial Eyes

At Artificial Eyes, it’s our passion to help clients feel confident, comfortable, and complete. Our ocularists hand-craft each prosthetic eye to create the perfect custom match for the clients’ companion eye. We take great pride in our impeccable attention to detail, and we’re committed to helping you take care of your prosthesis. The Artificial Eyes team is renowned for our professional, compassionate prosthetics services, and we’ll go above and beyond to restore your confidence and provide you with ongoing support. To learn more about your options for prosthetic eyes, contact the team at Artificial Eyes today.