What is a Scleral Shell?

A scleral cover shell is a bit like a thicker contact lens that usually fits over existing eyes. Many people are unaware that scleral shells can help both those who have suffered serious eye trauma, as well as those people who simply have unsightly (not great looking) eyes.  Unlike contact lenses scleral shells cover the entire eye not just the iris so any unsightly defect can be hidden behind the scleral shell.

The first step in creating a scleral shell, is to come into the office for a preliminary consultation. The ocularist will evaluate each person’s unique situation and make a recommendation on how to proceed.  Typically we will touch the eye with a q-tip to gauge sensitivity of the eye prior to proceeding with an impression.

Next, we take an impression of the eye. This impression is much like a dental impression taken at an orthodontist’s office, but taken in the ocular cavity rather than the mouth. Many people find the impression to be the most uncomfortable part of the process, but your ocularist will walk you through how to prepare properly so that you are as comfortable as possible.  New silicone impression material can be used for most patients which makes the impression much more comfortable while minimizing inflammation compared to the traditional Alginate impression material.

Highest Quality Scleral Shell

At the office of Advanced Artificial Eyes, the iris we create is one of the highest quality irises available anywhere on the market. We are proud to be pioneering the manufacture of digital irises in the ocularist field by using an extremely high quality digital camera to replicate with great fidelity a patient’s existing eye.  We incorporate our patented technology to give you the finest iris available. US patent #9,517,650

The patient’s veining pattern is reproduced from a high resolution photo of the patients eye with red silk threads not colored pencils. Read more about our pioneering work in manufacturing digital irises for scleral shells here.

We work on refining the shape of the scleral shell, sometimes, over the course of several meetings. When we are done, you will have an extremely natural looking scleral shell that ideally mimics the movement of the seeing eye.

Scleral Shells Fitting Process

It is important to be aware, however, that the fitting process can sometimes be very complex.  In some cases the assistance of an ophthalmologist is necessary to prescribe medications so the eye is stable to proceed with the fitting of the scleral shell.  To achieve the best result the fitting of a scleral shell may sometimes involve elective surgery. For example, to get the absolutely ideal fit, a patient may have their eyelid lifted by an oculplastic surgeon after their scleral shell fitting.  For this reason, it is important to select an ocularist who has excellent, established relationships with other skilled ocular professionals. Getting the best fit for a scleral shell is often a team effort, and John Stolpe prides himself on close relationships with a wide range of consummate professionals.

John Stolpe is a third generation ocularist, who is proud of his family’s history of innovation in the field. His grandfather pioneered the shift from glass for artificial eyes, to the modern day acrylics now used. John strives to marry technology and artistry in the pieces he creates for his patients, pushing forward the innovative work of his family.