Not all prosthetics are made in the same fashion — some are molded by a professional, others are factory made, and some utilize a combination of both methods. In the past, “stock eyes” (eyes made in a factory with no regard to the anatomy of an individual) were the only option for patients. Because of the harm these pieces caused, the field has moved toward using custom solutions. In fact, members of the American Society of Ocularists have taken an oath never to use stock pieces.
Shockingly, however, stock pieces are in use in many parts of the world, including India, Mexico and in the U.S. as well. It is our belief that fitting a stock piece — except under the direst of circumstances when no other option is available and the stock piece is temporary — is unethical. Some ocularists may use generic shapes because it’s easier and quicker. It’s our belief that these ocularists do not have their patients’ best interests in mind. Patients who are not well informed about artificial eyes may see stock prosthetics as appealing because of their low short term costs. However, the long term costs of these inadequate devices are much, much greater.
Custom shaped prosthetics are critically important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, eye tissues are sensitive and can have adverse reactions to improperly manufactured shapes. A shape that does not fit the space around the eye, or socket properly will never work well, and will lead to problems like pain, swelling, excess discharge, mucus secretion, turning in of the eyelashes, an awful overall appearance and tissue scarring. The worst consequence of a stock eye is contraction of the socket, a severe facial deformity that can never be fixed. Furthermore, stock eyes are generally manufactured using poor quality plastics that leach toxins into the body.
How do you know if you’re being fitted with a stock eye? Stock eyes are generally generic shapes, such as an oval with no uniqueness that corresponds to the patient’s socket. Often it’s too big in 1 area, pins the eye open and prevents proper lid function, which cleans the eye.
Advanced Artificial Eyes and John Stolpe are committed to educating patients about the hazardous effects of stock eyes. We are currently developing a network of ocularists around the world who do excellent work and who have all pledged never to fit a stock eye. We urge American patients to seek out ASO member ocularists, who have all taken such a pledge.
If you have questions or are concerned about a piece you have used, please contact us at (818) 758-1666. We would be happy to look at photos you send us or do a free video consultation with you.