Custom Ocular Prosthetics Compared to Scleral Shell Prosthetics

In the 2015 film The Big Short, Christian Bale played a character named Dr. Michael Burry. Burry was a real person and a medical doctor as well as a financial investor. At age two, he lost his left eye to retinoblastoma. He has worn an artificial eye ever since.

If the film hadn’t shown it, viewers would have likely been unaware that Dr. Burry had a prosthetic eye. Such is the power of great ocular prosthetics.

If you’ve ever wondered, “How can I know what eye prosthetic is right for me?” then this article should help. It will cover some FAQs on eye prosthetics vs. scleral shells.

What is a prosthetic eye?

A prosthetic eye is an artificial eye, also known as an ocular prosthesis. People often refer to them as glass eyes, but they’re usually made from medical-grade acrylics (although some ocular prostheses are still made from glass).

A prosthetic eye is frequently used to replace an eye that is completely absent from the eye socket due to an accident, birth defect, disease or other affliction. Prosthetic eyes do not provide vision for the wearer.

What is a scleral shell?

A scleral shell is a unique type of ocular prosthesis. It is a small piece of plastic material (often poly(methyl methacrylate)) that fits over a previously damaged or discolored eye. The shell fits over the affected eye and has cosmetic as well as health benefits.

The scleral shell mimics the appearance of the other undamaged eye and fills the eye socket well enough to prevent ancillary conditions like a drooping eyelid. You can think of a scleral shell as a cross between a full prosthetic eye and a contact lens.

When it comes to eye prosthetics vs. scleral shells, which is better?

This largely depends on your individual situation, and you should consult your eye doctor. Still, you might be asking yourself, “How do I know what eye prosthetic is right for me?”

If your eye has been surgically removed through the process of enucleation, then you’re likely going to want to go with a prosthetic eye. Prosthetic eyes are more comprehensive solutions for those afflicted with eye disease or damage.

If your eye is simply discolored or the damage to it isn’t catastrophic, then you might have the option of keeping your original eye, even if you can’t see out of it anymore. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to consider a scleral shell.

What are the benefits of using a scleral shell?

A scleral shell can be a solution for several different eye conditions, such as microphthalmia, evisceration surgery or phthisical eye. The process of fitting and implementing a scleral shell is much less invasive than getting a full prosthetic, and, many times, surgery can be avoided entirely. For many patients, wearing a scleral shell works better for them than wearing a prosthetic contact lens, as the scleral shell is more custom made and designed to move along with the eye in addition to being more comfortable.

Call for your ocular prosthetic needs today

Hopefully, this article shed some light on the topic of eye prosthetics vs. scleral shells. You’ll no longer have to ask, “How do I know what eye prosthetic is right for me?” For a free consultation, give us a call at Hetzler Ocular Prosthetics Inc., where we’ve been operating since 1979.