How Are Prosthetic Eyes Created?

Whether you or a loved one needs a prosthetic eye due to eye injury, illness or eye or facial malformation, you’re likely wondering, how are prosthetic eyes created? A prosthetic eye is custom made for the wearer, and while each ocularist will have her own techniques and preferences, you can generally expect the creation of prosthetic eyes to follow this process.

Initial inspection

The creation of prosthetic eyes starts with an inspection of the eye socket. Your ocularist will take precise measurements of horizontal and vertical dimensions of the socket, as well as peripheral measurements. An impression or cast will be made of the eye socket. This quick and painless process only creates a cold sensation in the eye socket, but it’s best to take impressions from children while they’re under sedation or general anesthetic.

Color matching the iris

Your ocularist will usually color match your iris during your first visit. While it may seem easier to photograph the iris and paint from that, it never produces the same results in terms of color as painting directly from the model. This part of the eye prosthetic creation process is incredibly important, which is why you need to choose your ocularist carefully to ensure a perfect match.

Shaping the prosthesis

A plastic shape is created from the impression of your eye socket, and the ocularist will fit it for you in a subsequent visit. The ocularist uses wax to make adjustments and ensure the prosthesis is comfortable for long-term wear. Wax is also used to align the iris in the plastic shape, and the ocularist will pay great attention to the placement of the iris in a forward position to encourage the eyelids to open.

Color matching the scleral shell

Once the iris is embedded in the white plastic or acrylic material, the front surface is cut back to expose the iris. It’s not just the iris that needs to match the color of your natural eye, but the scleral shell, too. The sclera is the white of the eye, and the ocularist will tint this portion of the prosthetic to match your other eye. The ocularist will then use shredded red cotton to create veins, further adding detail to mimic the natural eye.

Final steps

After scleral matching, the eye should be ready for a final fitting. Your ocularist will teach you how to insert and remove the eye prosthesis, as well as how to properly clean it. Typically, you’ll schedule a follow-up appointment to check in and make sure the prosthesis has settled in perfectly. Make sure to clean a prosthesis at least once a month, and invest in a professional polish by a board certified ocularist to restore the prosthesis’ comfort and appearance.

Now that you know how prosthetic eyes are created, it’s clear that selecting a reputable ocularist is extremely important if you or a loved one need a prosthesis. Do your research and select a provider with a strong record of success and incredible attention to detail, like Hetzler Ocular Prosthetics Inc. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.