What is an Eye Prosthetic?
Often, people think of an eye prosthetic as a “glass eye,” a spherical eyeball that sits in the ocular socket. In reality, an eye prosthetic refers to something that is often very different.
For patients who have lost an entire eye due to severe trauma or disease, an eye prosthetic may indeed be a round piece that sits in the socket. But many individuals who use eye prosthetics fit them over an existing eye that is either unseeing or unsightly (doesn’t look great), much like a hard contact lens, and known as a scleral shell.
In addition, a modern eye prosthetic is usually made of acrylic rather than glass. This is for 3 reasons: acrylic does not shatter, acrylic can be impression (custom) fit to a patient’s anatomy, and acrylic eyes can be fitted with digital irises.
Artificial eyes date back to ancient times, when pharoahs would have their eyes surgically removed and replace them with gold eyes so people would think they were gods. More recently, going back to the 1600′s, eye prosthetics were made of glass. With the invention of modern plastics came the new acrylic eye, which has several advantages over traditional methods.
The latest advancement in eye prosthetic is the incorporation of digital artificial eye graphics and printing methods to convey a level of aesthetic detail unachievable by human hands. The office of John Stolpe is pushing this technology dramatically forward with the manufacture of digital irises. We believe these advances mean that, in the future, the creation of eye prosthetics will focus more on shape and movement than paint and color.
Reasons for an Eye Prosthetic
Patients make the move to get an eye prosthetic for a variety of reasons. They may have lost an eye due to trauma or disease. Or perhaps they were born with an unsightly eye and have heard that scleral shells may be helpful for them. In all of these cases we focus strongly on achieving the best possible result for our patients. We want them to go about their day — and ultimately life — unnoticed by those around them. Our goal is helping our patients to feel totally “normal” and go about their day “under the radar.”
Often, the term “artificial eye” is used, when eye prosthetic is actually a much more accurate term. For patients with an unsightly (not great looking) but otherwise good eye, we aren’t actually giving them an “artificial eye,” but rather an ocular prosthesis knows as a scleral shell that fits right over their eye, much like a contact lens. This misunderstanding can lead to serious consequences, such as a patient having their eye removed when such a procedure may be unnecessary.
Selecting a Provider for Prosthetic Eyes
When selecting a provider for eye prosthetics there are many things to consider: experience of the ocularist, cost, quality of the work, location, and of course the “bedside manner” and integrity of the ocularist. On all of these counts, we believe our office offers the absolute top of the line service.
- John Stolpe is a 3rd generation ocularist from a distinguished line of providers. While serving in the United States military, his grandfather Frederick Lewis began working to invent the modern acrylic prosthetic eye, an innovation that proved new, efficient materials could replace old glass technology.
- John is on the absolute cutting edge in terms of aesthetic quality of his pieces, and he does not stop making improvements until the patient has achieved the absolute best result possible.
- John is conveniently located in Southern California, though he has patients who fly to see him from as far away as Europe and Asia.
- And, on one of the most important notes, John is a kind person who truly cares about his patients. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than knowing that one of his pieces has helped someone live a more fulfilling, more joyful life.