of The Ocular Prosthesis
Sources vary on when and where artificial eye
manufacturing originated, but there is evidence that
the craft can be traced to the late renaissance when
Venetian glassmakers started creating glass eyes.
The art flourished primarily in France and Germany,
where carefully guarded fabricating secrets were
handed down from one generation to the next.
In the nineteenth century German Ocularists began to
tour the United States, making glass artificial eyes
on a national circuit, setting up for several days
at a time in one city after another.
Ê Glass stock eyes were also fit by mail order and
out of drawers. Many older patients have told us
about going to an office as a child where a
technician, with hundreds of glass eyes in cabinets,
would fit them with the best fitting eye they could
find for them out of the drawer.
Eye manufacture in the United States began about
1850. Eyes continued to be made of glass until the
onset of World War II. German glassblowers were no
longer touring the United States.Ê Most German goods
were being boycotted which compelled the development
of an American technology for fabricating artificial
It is believed that Fritz Jardon in conjunction with
American Optical Company worked with the Army and
Navy dentist in the original research.
Using acrylic resins that formed the basis of
fabricating the modern ocular prosthesis, the
technology continues today. Since World War II,
plastic has become the preferred material for the
artificial eye because of it's durability and
The plastic used in eye making is a high optical
quality acrylic (Methacrylate resin), similar to the
material used to make dentures.
Plastic eyes offer several advantages over the glass
eyes. They can be impression fit, matching the exact
contours of the socket.Ê After the original
fabrication by molding, they can be enlarged or
otherwise modified as necessary. They can also be
attached by titanium pegs to the newer integrated
motility implants available today, whereas glass
eyes can not.
Plastic artificial eyes can also be polished and
cleaned repeatedly when needed and are practically
unbreakable. The lifetime of a plastic prosthesis is
up to five times longer than that of a glass eye,
most of which require replacing every year or two.
Glass artificial eyes must be blown in a flame, are
extremely fragile, and when completed can not be
polished or altered in any way.
Although it is a common misconception that
artificial eyes are made from glass, most artificial
eyes produced in the United States are fitted and
fabricated by ocularists from Methyl Methacrylate