Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Artificial Eyes
Q: What materials are used to make an artificial eye?
A: Modern artificial eyes are made of plastic (PMMA) and a very durable compared to their older glass counterparts. The coloration of the prosthesis is achieved with red threads for blood vessels, and oil paints thinned with a liquid plastic syrup called ‘monopoly’. The painting technique, glazing, is like one used with watercolors where thin layers of color create depth.
Q: How is the artificial eye held in?
A: An artificial eye is held in place by the eyelids and an appropriate fit on the back side of the prosthesis.
Q: Do ocular prosthetics move?
A: Yes, most prosthetics move. The two biggest factors are the movement of the tissue in the anophthalmic socket and the fit of the prosthesis. Sockets that have been exposed to trauma and have more scarring usually move less than those that have not experienced trauma.
Q: Does Health Insurance cover ocular prosthetics?
A: Most insurance plans cover new and replacement artificial eyes, scleral shells, twice yearly polishes and adjustments. We work with many insurance plans, including Medicare and BCBS. Please call or email us if you have a question about coverage or referrals. In most cases, we can get the referral started for you!
Q: How long does an artificial eye last?
A: Typically, an artificial eye lasts about 3-7 years before it needs to be replaced. Tissue changes in the socket, anatomical growth, and breakdown of the acrylic are the primary reasons for replacement. Due to growth spurts, prosthetics in children tend to last around 3 years before requiring replacement.
Q: I just had my eye removed, what are the next steps?
A: Following an enucleation or evisceration surgery, a patient is fit with a clear conformer, a curved shape that helps form the inside of the eye socket. This first fitting is usually done at the time of surgery by the surgeon.
Ideally, we see patients 4-6 weeks after the surgery. This visit allows us to meet with the patient & family, explain our process and ease anxiety about the restoration. During the initial visit, we start the process of making the patient’s ocular prosthesis.
Q: How long does it take to make an artificial eye?
A: It usually takes three appointments to make an artificial eye. An eye can be completed over the span of a couple weeks, depending on one's preferred schedule.
Q: How often should an artificial eye be polished?
A: We recommend a polish every 6-12 months for most patients. This visit allows us to remove the built-up protein, bacteria and scratches on the prosthetic surface. We also examine the fit of the prosthesis and the condition of the anophthhalmic socket.
Q: Is an artificial eye or scleral shell cosmetic?
A: The purpose of an artificial eye and scleral shell is to return the eye socket to normal volume, eyelid function and drainage function. Since they are medically necessary, ocular prosthetics are covered by most health insurance plans as a prosthesis.
Q: My child was born with microphthalmia/anophthalmia, is an ocular prosthesis necessary?
A: A prosthetic can help the proper development of the facial structures by adding necessary volume and pressure. The presence of the prosthesis helps the eyelids, fissure opening, and orbital tissues grow and maintain appropriate size and shape.