Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Ocularist?
An ocularist is a person who provides the service of fitting and fabricating artificial eyes.
In North America, artificial eyes are fabricated from a plastic material called Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA), more commonly known as acrylic.
Yes, there are glass eyes still made, but these are mainly produced in some European countries. Glass eyes are a hollow 'blown' type of prosthesis, and are very fragile.
After the initial fitting of the prosthesis, you will need at least one appointment a month later to assess that the fit is still accurate.
It is also necessary for you to return to see your ocularist on an annual basis to have the prosthesis repolished. This enables the protein deposit to be removed and to restore its lustre/shine. This appointment also provides an opportunity to make any adjustments and to provide you with the best possible appearance and comfort.
No! The prosthesis should be removed every one or two months and cleaned to remove any protein deposits that may have accumulated on its surface. If you have been fitted with a scleral shell, this should be removed each night. See Care & Hygiene
Generally, most adult patients will require their prosthesis to be replaced every five to seven years, except for the initial prosthesis following the surgical removal of your eye. During the first one to two years following this surgery, the socket settles the most and this sometimes requires a new prosthesis to be fabricated to optimize your cosmetic result. Children require a replacement ocular prosthesis approximately every two to three years due to their rapid growth.
Over a period of time, changes take place in the socket shape, particularly with children, creating a poorly fitting prosthesis. Therefore, the position of the eyelids may appear different to the 'good' side. There may also be reduced movement to the prosthesis. An older prosthesis may absorb secretions from the socket and cause a continual discharge and irritation.
This is a custom made, thin ocular prosthesis fitted directly over a blind and shrunken globe. It includes the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the sclera (the white part of the eye). It will, therefore, completely cover up an unsightly, discoloured globe. The blind eye must be smaller than the 'good' eye, to allow space for the scleral shell to be fitted and to provide a good cosmetic result. The scleral shell helps to restore volume loss and will usually assist the upper eyelid to return to a normal position and match the companion eye. Movement with a scleral shell is usually very good.
These are a more recent type of implant material that can be used at the time of surgery and are known as integrated implants. Some are made from hydroxyapatite, a sea coral. Other synthetic, porous, materials are also used for this purpose. These materials allow for the in-growth of tissue into the implant. Occasionally, a small 'peg' is fitted into the implant by the ophthalmologist which can provide a greater degree of movement to the prosthesis. However, due to numerous compications that arose, this pegging procedure is rarely performed nowadays.