Everything You Need to Know About Custom Scleral Shells

Nowadays, patients with permanently damaged eyes have quite a few options for prosthetics to cover up a blind, discolored or deformed eye. Some of the prostheses we specialize in a Hetzler Ocular Prosthetics Inc. are custom scleral shells. What are custom scleral shells? Continue reading to learn the answer and get some other vital information about these prostheses.

What are custom scleral shells?

A custom scleral shell is an eye prosthesis fitted directly over a blind or damaged eye that hasn’t been removed. As the name suggests, these shells consist of the sclera (the white part of the eye) along with the iris (the colored part of the eye).

Because the prosthesis is attached directly to the damaged eye and the eye muscles, scleral shells can be moved around just like a natural eye. When crafted correctly and properly fitted, custom scleral shells can look as real as a natural eye.

When is a scleral shell an option?

It’s important to note that not all patients are candidates for custom scleral shells. To be eligible for a scleral shell, the afflicted eye must be stable, pain free and smaller than the undamaged companion eye.

Those who aren’t eligible for this prosthesis have other options, like a prosthetic eye.

What can happen if a patient doesn’t get a scleral shell?

Besides restoring a person’s appearance and giving them confidence, the primary purpose of a custom scleral shell is to replace the volume deficiency of the damaged eye. Without this prosthesis, a patient’s upper eyelid can start to droop, which is a condition known as superior eyelid ptosis.

Failing to get a scleral shell can also result in the eye socket becoming particularly dry or even infected. Scleral shells help retain moisture over the dry cornea and allow for a smoother blinking function, which is vital for natural tear flow for the eyelid drainage system.

What is the fitting process like?

Although no surgery is required to receive a scleral shell, the fitting process can be complex. We start by taking a soft mold of the affected eye to capture the unique contours of the eye’s surface. Once we have that mold, we create a clear acrylic trial lens so the patient can adapt to wearing the prosthesis before the actual one is made. We handcraft each scleral shell out of medical-grade acrylic and paint each one to match the patient’s eye color.

The process of getting a scleral shell usually takes at least two or three appointments to ensure the shell matches the other eye and fits comfortably.

Schedule an appointment with our team today

If you believe you may be a candidate for custom scleral shells, now’s the time to schedule an appointment with our team at Hetzler Ocular Prosthetics Inc. During your consultation, we’ll go over your options for prostheses to see if a scleral shell might be right for you. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about your prosthetic eye options.