Loss of an Eye and Replacement with Prosthetic (Glass) Eye.

The loss of an eye can be a devesting event for a patient. From a visual perspective, adapting to only one functional eye can be very challenging and equally if not more challenging from a cosmetic perspective.

Eyes are unfortunately lost due to injuries or disease which usually involve a malignancy. “Enucleation” is the procedure used to physically remove the eye and is usually performed by an ophthalmologist specializing in orbital surgery. The exact procedure can vary depending on the degree of injury or disease and how much reconstructive surgery must be done to preserve or rebuild the structures need to support the prosthetic eye.

The placement of a prosthetic eye is usually a two step process in which surgery sets in place the main body of the prosthetic followed by the building and designing the front portion which will be visible. During surgery, a round ball of sea coral (no kidding) is inserted into the orbital space which the eye previously occupied. A primary cosmetic goal of the surgery is to have the prosthetic eye move and point in the same direction as the remaining eye. Ideally, during the surgery all six muscles which turn the eye are left in place and attached to the coral implant. The porous nature of the coral allows the muscles and blood supply to grow into the coral, fully locking it in place and allowing it to turn in sync with the other eye. After the surgery, the lids remain closed for six weeks to allow for healing.

The second step in construction of the prosthetic eye involves an ocularist. An ocularist will design, shape, and paint the front portion of the prosthetic eye. They do amazing work in matching the prosthetic eye color and shape to that of the remaining eye to give a natural appearance. The front portion is actually made of hard contact lens material not glass. It has a small peg in the back of it that inserts into a corresponding hole in the implanted coral ball. The front portion is held in place by the eyelids and can be removed for cleaning which is recommended every six months.

The implant will last for life and can’t easily be removed as the muscles and blood vessel have grown into it.  The outer part of the eye is made of plastic and needs to be replaced every 10 years. If you have questions about prosthetic eyes or feel you may be at risk for losing your vision please call our clinic to be seen by Dr. Steve.