Upon entering optometry school I knew little to nothing about diseases of the eye. I also did not know that, even if someone does not have eyesight, they still need to frequently visit their eye doctor. Why? Well, optometrists do so much more than simply prescribe glasses. They care for the eye as well as the surrounding tissues and orbit. This includes treating patients with prosthetic eyes.
I recently began my rotation through our Cornea and Contact Lens Department. This department deals with diseases of the front of the eye as well as medically necessary contact lenses and ocular prosthetics. Each Thursday, ICO has an ocularist that comes to the clinic to work alongside the doctors. He not only fits and cleans the ocular prosthetics, but he also creates them himself.
The detail that goes into creating these pieces is amazing. If the patient has arcus, a cataract, a freckle, any minor details, those are all incorporated. The ocularist and doctor work specifically with the patient to educate them about the prosthetic, remove and clean it, and care for the health of the remaining tissue behind the prosthetic.
There are many reasons a patient may need an ocular prosthetic for one or both eyes. It is amazing how real these prosthetics look and how hard it is to tell that it is not organic. The outstanding thing is that this mix of science and art completely changes the patient’s life.