I asked and then you asked! Thank you for all that responded with questions regarding prosthetic eyes and here are the answers to your questions!
What is the process to make a prosthetic eye and what are they made of?
Depending upon when a child or adult starts using them depends upon whether they will start with clear conformers or a painted shell. If they are young enough, clear conformers are used to help the eye orbit grow and develop. Once the child is older, or if an adult, molds may be taken of the socket so that the prosthesis may be formed. The eye prosthetics are made of a medical grade acrylic. They are shaped to best fit the socket or around any existing eye that may be there.
Other than aesthetics, what benefits are there to wearing an ocular prosthetic?
Some individuals, like our Scarlett, need the help of a clear conformer to tell her body that the eye orbit and eye lids needs to grow. This also helps to make sure that there is no or little facial deformity as she grows.
What age will one start using them?
It is a case by case basis. I have personally talked to parents of children who had their first conformer at 4 weeks. Scarlett’s ocularist likes to wait until around 3 months old. I’ve also connected with adults who are just getting their first prosthetic in their 20’s.
Can you grow out of them? If so, how often do they need to be changed?
Yes! As babies, a new prosthetic is usually required every 4-6 weeks! After that, every 6 months or so until they are between 6-9 years old. Then it goes to once a year. As a young adult/adult, it will generally need replaced every 3-5 years.
Are there any alternatives to having a prosthetic eye?
As stated above, it is very much a case by case basis. It is also dependent upon which eye condition the person has. If one has bilateral anopthalmia (which is a fancy word for not having eyes in either socket), many chose not to have prosthetics placed at all. In some less severe cases of microphthalmia, the difference is not noticeable enough that a prosthetic may be required.
How do you get them in and do you need anything special?
There is a tiny suction cup that is used to help get the prosthetic in and out. Now this is not always needed once the child is older as it is easier to get them to stay still once they are able to understand what is going on. As far as getting them in and out, I’m going to share a link to a YouTube video, that was posted by Jerusha Chicoine, with Foster who is so adorable!! She has graciously given me permission to share their video with you!
Does it hurt when they are placed?
There can be some discomfort but it is usually very minimal. Depending on what age they start the prosthetic process, can be scary. In our case, Scarlett started her conformers at almost 3 months old. She is a champ and doesn’t fuss when we are getting her new one. Even if they have to try a few different sizes in!
Once they are in, is there any discomfort?
Discomfort is minimal and if there is any, that may be an indication that something is wrong. In any case where there is pain, the eye team (ophthalmologist and occularist) should be contact to see how to proceed. If the eye is still there, it may need to be removed. This is something that we have to watch for, however it will only happen if it begins to cause Scarlett pain. Other than that, if it gets goopy, then you can either use very wet Q-Tips to clean it or it can be removed and cleaned.
I hope this answered any questions you may have regarding eye prosthetics. Keep in mind that I am just a mom sharing the knowledge I have. There are always other experiences or circumstances that I may not have covered. I am definitely not an expert in this field.
Please feel free to leave question or comments with your experience in the comments below!