The History of Prosthetic Eyes

History of Artificial EyesThe first evidence of human’s wearing a prosthetic eye was recently uncovered in the southeastern part of Iran.  The woman, carbon-dated back to 2900 BCE, was discovered wearing a rudimentary ocular prosthesis worn outside of the eye socket.  This crude, hemispherical form was made of clay and covered with a thin layer of gold.  Tiny holes were also drilled into both sides of the eye, through which gold thread passed to hold the eyeball in place.  Archaeologist believe that this woman was a priestess, possibly using her prosthetic eye to convince others that she had occult powers and could see into the future.

The first prosthetic eye to be worn in-socket was made of gold with colored enamel embellishments.  It wasn’t until the late sixteenth century that the Venetians began to manufacture prosthetic eyes out of glass.  These early glass ocular prostheses were very fragile and uncomfortable.  The Venetians protected their secret methodology of prosthetic eye making until the Parisians took over.  In the mid-nineteenth century superior glass-blowing techniques shifted the center of prosthetic eye making production to Germany.

With the onset of World War II in 1939, glass for the production of prosthetic eyes was no longer available to Americans from Germany.  As a result, the United States government commissioned American companies to develop techniques for manufacturing prosthetic eyes out of acrylic plastic.  This transparent, shatter resistant material was a superior alternative to the fragile nature of glass eyes previously available.

Today, most ocularists manufacture prosthetic eyes out of medical grade acrylic plastic.  At Ocular Prosthetics, Inc., our team of board certified ocularists use experienced fitting techniques to capture the unique anatomy of each patient’s eye socket.  This fitting procedure ensures that every prosthetic eye is as comfortable as possible.  Dry earth pigments are also utilized in the painting process to capture the vibrant colors of each person’s unique eye color.  For more information on the services available at Ocular Prosthetics, Inc. please contact us today!