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What is an Artificial Eye?
An artificial eye (prosthetic eye) is usually made of Perspex or glass. A prosthetic eye is used when the natural eye has been removed due to compelling circumstances like a tumour in the eye, an accident damaging the eye irreversibly, a painful non seeing eye following eye surgery or eye conditions. The natural eye is spherical; hence it needs to be replaced with something spherical. This explains why we use spherical orbital implants. Adequately sized orbital implants prevent the artificial eye from having a sunken and deep set appearance. The artificial eye is placed in front of this spherical implant. The artificial eye is made after taking an impression of the socket and then painted to match the unaffected eye.
Who can wear an artificial eye?
Artificial eyes can be worn at any age though it is commoner in adults. However as wearing an artificial eye is not uncomfortable children can also be given one if they have lost an eye due to any reason e.g. tumour or trauma.
Why would an eye need to be removed?
The only cause for preventable blindness is accidental trauma. The following accidents are common causes for severe eye trauma which may result in the eye having to be removed; hammering on metal without eye protection, using motorised saws without eye protection, bar fights followed by ‘bottling’, car accidents where seatbelts have not been worn when the eyes are traumatised by glass from the shattered windscreen.
Facts about the Artificial Eye
It is possible to detect an artificial eye, generally because it does not move as well as the real eye. However, there are techniques available to correct this, so that the artificial eye moves better. Not only may the artificial eye lack full movement, but it may also be a little deep set. This will draw more attention to the eye when people look at you. New techniques are available that may improve this sunken appearance dramatically.
Deep set artificial eye
A sunken appearance of the artificial eye may be seen not too infrequently. When no orbital implant is inserted at the time of removal of the real eye, it results in a deep set artificial eye. Even if the artificial eye is rather big, it may not be big enough to correct for this loss of volume. Over the years the fat behind the artificial eye may slowly disappear, probably due to absorption of orbital fat. Correction of this problem is nowadays an relatively easy procedure.
A droopy upper eyelid is generally a longstanding problem that may develop partly due to ageing, but the repeated removal and insertion of the artificial eye is possibly a contributing factor. An inadequately sized orbital implant may also be responsible for droopy eyelids. Hence the treatment of this problem needs to be individualised.
Dropping artificial eyes
The constant dropping out of an artificial eye may be due to laxity of the lower lid, disappearance and re-absorption of the fat in the socket or when patient’s orbital implant is too small.
ColourColour of the iris and the blood vessels are professionally made by an ocular prosthetist who has obtained dedicated training in fitting individualised prostheses. The oculoplastic surgeon is unable to improve this for you, but the ocular prosthetist is likely to be of a