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Prosthetic Eye

A prosthetic eye can help improve the appearance of people who have lost an eye to injury or disease. It's commonly called a "glass eye" or "fake eye."

The prosthetic eye includes:

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  • oval, whitish outer shell finished to duplicate the white color of the other eye
  • round, central portion painted to look like the iris and pupil of the other eye

Implanting a prosthetic eye (ocular prosthesis) is almost always recommended after an eye is surgically removed due to damage or disease.

Some of the reasons why an eye may be removed are:

  • injury
  • glaucoma
  • infection inside the eye
  • eye tumors

Types of Surgery

There are two surgical methods for removing a damaged eye. The type of surgery you have will affect the selection of a prosthetic eye. The two methods are:

Evisceration. In this method, the jelly-like inside of the eye is suctioned out. This is done through an incision in the front of the eye. But the procedure preserves tissues in the:

  • outer eye
  • eye socket (orbit)

Enucleation. In this method, the entire eye (the globe-like "eyeball") is cut away and removed from the eye socket.

Your doctor will decide which method to use based on:

  • type of eye condition you have
  • degree of damage to the eye

Why Is a Prosthetic Eye Used?

A prosthetic eye can improve the appearance of the affected eye socket. For most people it is vastly preferable to wearing an eye patch or bandage.

If the entire eye is removed, an ocular implant and prosthesis prevent the tissues in the eye socket from growing to fill the empty space.

A prosthetic eye cannot restore vision. After removal of the natural eye and placement of a prosthetic eye, a person will have no vision in that eye.

What Is a Prosthetic Eye Made of?

At one time a "glass eye" was really made of glass. Today, a prosthetic eye is generally made of hard, plastic acrylic. The prosthetic eye is shaped like a shell.

The prosthetic eye fits over an ocular implant. The ocular implant is a separate hard, rounded device that is surgically and permanently embedded deeper in the eye socket.

An ocular implant is often wrapped with living tissue or a synthetic cushioning material before placement.

Prosthetic Eye Surgery: What to Expect

After surgery to remove the natural eye, a ball-shaped ocular implant is permanently and deeply implanted. Later, the removable prosthesis is created to fit over it.

Removing a damaged eye is usually performed under local anesthesia. Sedating medicines and pain medicine may be given through the veins to reduce anxiety and pain. General anesthesia is usually not necessary but is an option.

Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for several days after prosthetic eye surgery. Antibiotic eyedrops are usually prescribed for a few weeks. The eye socket is kept covered and given months to heal.

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