People who lose
an eye because of anything from injury to cancer have long had the option of
getting a prosthetic eye to replace their lost organ. This is a medical
tradition that stretches back not just centuries, but millennia.
known evidence of someone with a prosthetic eye dates back to 2900 BC. The
remains of an Iranian woman – possibly a priestess – with a fake eye were
unearthed. Her eye was made of clay covered in gold, and gold thread was used
to hold the eye in place. It’s important to note that, at this time and for
thousands of years later, prosthetic eyes were worn on the outside of the
weren’t used on living patients, prosthetic eyes were used extensively in
ancient Egypt during the mummification process.
Roman and Egyptians wearing prosthetic eyes dates back to about 500 BC, but
these, too, were worn outside the socket.
It wasn’t until
the late sixteenth century that the modern prosthetic was developed. French surgeon
is considered the first to develop false eyes that were implanted into the
socket, although he did also develop those that rested outside.
At about the
same time, Venetian glassblowers were creating glass artificial eyes to replace
eyes made from gold, wood, and other materials, although they were very
uncomfortable. These techniques were later adapted by the French, then adopted
and improved upon by the Germans, who slowly made them more durable. They were
also custom-made for individual patients for the first time.
Glass eyes are
the most popular version of the prosthetic eye, and “glass eye” is still used
as shorthand for prosthetic eyes today.
German glass eye did make its way to the Americas, World War II put a stop to German
imports. So, American doctors needed a new alternative, particularly since many
soldiers returned home with eye injuries. A new type of medical-grade plastic called
or PMMA, was developed.
PMMA proved more durable than glass,
and has since replaced glass in nearly all prosthetic eyes (there are, however,
some people in Europe who still wear glass eyes). Prosthetic eyes are still uniquely
fitted to each patient’s eye socket and designed to be perfect matches to the
other eye. Prosthetic eyes are also attached to ocular muscles, allowing for movement
of the prosthetic.
Although artificial eyes date back
thousands of years, the ophthalmologists at CEENTA always keep up to date with
the most current medical knowledge. If you find yourself facing blurry, strained, or limited vision, make an appointment with us today.
This blog is for informational
purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our Eye doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.