Jump to topic
An ocular prosthesis is an artificial eye that ocularists implant in patients who have lost eyes or have eye abnormalities due to several reasons that include but are not limited to, the following:
These physical defects and disfigurements impact patients’ physical function and can also take a toll on them psychologically. While artificial eyes cannot enhance or restore a patient’s field of view like human retinas, an ocular prosthesis can help to boost their confidence by improving their appearance.
There are different kinds of artificial eyes, too. Here are a few options that may be available:
Patients may experience some discomfort until they get adjusted to the ocular prosthesis, whichever option they choose.
Jump to topic
Every candidate will see an ocularist who can create a custom-made prosthesis after their socket wound has healed from surgery. Postoperatively, a surgeon will place a transparent conformer in the eye socket in place of the prosthetic shell, which the ocularist will first remove.
Using an alginate, the ocularist will make a silicone impression model of the socket, which is then fabricated to create a white acrylic prosthesis. From there, the iris is painted in accordance to the patient’s natural eye color and pattern. The entire eye shell will be polished smooth and coated with a clear acrylic once more.
Once the artificial eye is ready, it will fit behind the upper and lower lid over the shrunken eyeball or orbital implant that’s placed after the surgeon removes the actual human eye.
For all types of artificial eyes, adequate eye care and maintenance is necessary.
Candidates for artificial eyes include those who have lost an eye or who live with an eye abnormality. Often, patients who’ve had trauma to the face or cancer that affects the eyes (or surgery to remove cancer) are candidates for ocular prosthesis. Anyone with developmental eye issues such as shrunken or abnormally small eyes that do not function properly are also good candidates for artificial eyes.
No, you cannot see with an artificial eye. But, while an artificial eye does not provide eyesight, it can boost a patient's confidence by improving their external appearance. Patients can still move the artificial eye (though not as much as a human eye), and they can fully blink the eyelids over the artificial eye.
That said, for the first time in history, scientists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are exploring a bionic eye — the world’s first 3D artificial eye with capabilities that exceed human eyes. This electrochemical eye could give humanoid robots vision and provide hope for patients with various visual impairments.
Prosthetic eyes should last about five years and, while they may last longer, it’s wise to change them anyway. The eye socket will change shape over time, as does the iris and sclera color. Some doctors recommend changing prosthetic eyes every three years because of bodily changes. For children, they may need to be replaced even more often.
The color of the ocular prosthesis can change over time due to handling and sunlight exposure. Of course, proper eye care can add life to the biomimetic eye. Cleaning it and having it polished up every so often can help it to last longer. This is because the body’s proteins can eat into the top layer of the acrylic. While this happens on a nanoscale, it’s enough to dull down the glisten over time. As this happens, the eye looks less and less realistic.
A prosthetic eye's cost will vary depending on the patient’s needs and their choice of the prosthetic eye. Some vision insurance plans may cover artificial eye care.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” Oculus Prosthetics, 5 Apr. 2019, www.oculusprosthetics.com/faq/.
Ocular Prosthesis, www.sankaranethralaya.org/patient-care-ocular-prosthesis.html.
Sajjad, Arbaz. “Ocular Prosthesis - A Simulation of Human Anatomy: A Literature Review.” Cureus, 6 Dec. 2012, www.cureus.com/articles/1356-ocular-prosthesis---a-simulation-of-human-anatomy-a-literature-review.
Sethi, Tania, et al. “Fabrication of a Custom Ocular Prosthesis.” Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4123284/.
“World's First Spherical Artificial Eye Has 3D Retina.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 10 June 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200610102726.htm.