Ocularist – John Stolpe, BCO, BADO


What is an Ocularist?

An ocularist is a medical professional who makes artificial eyes. This may sound like a simple task, but in reality there are many complex and important skills and services that an ocularist should offer in order to make the absolute best piece possible. John Stolpe draws on 3 generations of ocularistry in his practice to continue to innovate in his field, and offer a dedication to care that is second to none.

In the past, artificial eyes were made only of glass. John Stolpe’s grandfather worked as an ocularist and was key in evolving the field away from glass to modern day acrylic. He served as a medic in WWII, and was forced to improvise when Germany cut off supplies to troops. It turns out that acrylic is a far superior material for 3 seasons: unlike glass, acrylic cannot shatter. It can be shaped and custom fit much more easily than a glass eye can. And finally, it can be fit with digital irises.

Office of Ocularist John Stolpe

Today the office of John Stolpe is pioneering the manufacture of digital irises. By using the highest quality modern day digital technology, we are able to reproduce, with an extremely high degree of precision, the look of an existing eye. And we are able to do some time and time again. By taking out the effort involved in painting an iris (most ocularists still paint irises by hand), we are able to focus more on the fit and movement of the eye. We believe this means that the future of ocularistry will be more about movement than color, possibly incorporating CGI and robotics. Read more about our ocularist work on digital irises here. 

In addition to our work creating actual pieces, it is important that ocularists have a wide range of knowledge regarding the function of the eye and eye health. While some artificial eyes are indeed round spheres that sit in empty sockets, many are actually “shells” that sit upon existing eyes that are either damaged or unsightly (don’t look great). Based upon your precise situation, your ocularist will recommend a care regimen that is suited specifically to you. (In most cases, our pieces only need to be removed and cleaned a few times per year.)

In addition, in order to achieve the best possible fit and appearance, your ocularist may recommend elective oculoplastic surgery either before or after your fitting. It is important to select an ocularist with excellent relationships with surgeons, as the process of fitting a piece, in combination with surgery, is a delicate one requiring regular communication between eye professional.

The office of ocularist John Stolpe prides ourselves on delivering the best possible artificial eye product, in combination with care that is second to none. We work with patients to instruct them on the ins and outs of ocularistry and insurance, and are committed to achieving the best possible solution for you. We are located in Southern California, with access to some of the world’s top eye specialists. Patients come visit us from all over the world, and we invite you to set up a consultation to learn how we can help you live the most “under the radar,” happy, normal life possible.

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