One of the most traumatic events someone can go through is losing one or both eyes to illness, accident, or injury. Whether it’s cancer that has spread into the eyeball, a car accident that caused severe damage, or an infection that led to blindness, sometimes people are left with having no choice but to live without sight in one or both eyes. Living with one eye is difficult in some cases, but there is help out there to feel “complete” again. The option of prosthetic eyes is available thanks to advances in medicine, and understanding what they are and how they work can be helpful for both patients looking into getting them as well as their family members.
A prosthetic eye is a fake replacement for someone who has lost their sight in one or both eyes. They are meant to be an easy-to-use, affordable option that covers the empty space that was left from losing an eyeball and helps people feel more comfortable with what they’ve been through. Also called an artificial eye, a prosthetic eye is made from a soft material that resembles the eyeball and gives it its shape. Patients who have purchased these prosthetics have found them to be very life-like in appearance and they feel more comfortable going out into public with one. There are different types of prosthetic eyes that are available for purchase, depending on what the patient’s personal needs are. Among those, some of the more common ones include:
In general, a prosthetic eye is affixed to the remaining bone structure in the socket of the person who has lost an eye or both eyes by using either a medical adhesive or special fitting material that is applied to the socket and sets to fit the prosthetic eye. Making a prosthetic eye is an involved process that requires precise measurements of the patient’s face so that the finished product feels as natural as possible.
If a person’s lost an eye completely, when the cavity isn’t filled, tissue growth can occur. This is something you might want to ask your doctor about during the eye exam, in order to determine the best course of action for yourself. It might now always happen, but it’s still best to be prepared. The tissue growth can happen right away, but it’s more likely to occur after a year or two. If you don’t want to go through the process of getting fitted for a prosthetic eye and then wearing it for 8-36 hours a day (for 2-3 months), until your socket is healed enough to leave the prosthetic eye in 24/7, then preventative measures might be best. These include regular visits with your doctor to make sure the socket is healing well, and making sure you’re wearing good sunglasses that screen out UVA and UVB rays.
This is perhaps the most important reason for people to wear a prosthetic eye. The way a person looks and sees themselves has a great effect on their confidence levels and mental health. If they feel deformed, or like they’ve lost their identity because of what happened to them, then prosthetic eyes can help them feel “complete” again. If they’re too noticeable and not realistic-looking enough, that can actually have an adverse effect on their mental health. However, when made by professionals, they aren’t noticed by the people around them and are realistic-looking enough that they help to restore a person’s confidence. People who have lost eyesight often don’t look at themselves in the mirror anymore because they can’t stand seeing what they perceive as their disfigured faces staring back at them every time they do. Wearing a prosthetic eye can help them cope with their trauma and develop a new healthy relationship with their reflection.
For better or for worse, people are visual creatures. They tend to make snap judgments based on a person’s appearance, and a prosthetic eye can help with that. Whether the person who has lost their eye is going for a job interview or on a date, they might want some help with avoiding the fact that they’ve lost an eye being the first thing someone notices about them. In dealing with children, this is especially important. If they feel self-conscious about what happened to them, it can be incredibly traumatic for them. They might not want other children or their parents to know that something has happened to them because of the way they’ll treat them then. With a very subtle prosthetic eye, this wouldn’t be an issue. Even people that are well-meaning can sometimes act in a way that shows pity, and that might be hard on the person that lost an eye due to whatever accident happened. Instead, they might just act normal around the person with one less eye than them, and that can help.
It’s important to note that wearing a prosthetic eye doesn’t hurt. When it’s fitted well, it can feel almost like one’s own eye. While it is recommended that you go back to the manufacturer or your eye doctor to get your prosthetic polished every six months or so – in order to maintain the natural look, a prosthetic eye can last for years if taken care of properly. They should be able to sleep, swim, and do all other usual activities with their prosthetic eye. That said, if a person ever feels physical discomfort wearing the prosthetic, it’s important that they go back to their eye doctor. Prosthetic eyes are fitted by eye doctors who use a type of molding material, so if the prosthetic is too tight or loose then it probably needs to be re-molded.
Prosthetic eyes are a great resource for people who have lost an eye. They help with self-confidence and mental health while also being cost-effective and easy to maintain. If the idea of wearing a prosthetic eye is daunting at first, it’s important that a person takes time to understand why people do so, and what they can gain by doing it.