6 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Getting My Prosthetic Eye

My sister and I were born at 27 weeks. As a result I developed retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) which left me blind in my left eye and with low vision in my right eye.

Not long before I turned 21, my left eye started playing up. It became extremely painful, so I went to the doctor. After a lot of drama (another story!) I was diagnosed with glaucoma. Initially attempts were made to treat it with eye drops, however, the pressure in my eye kept climbing, to the point where my eye was essentially ready to “pop.” It was at this point my doctor recommended removal was the best option.

I distinctly remember sitting in the doctor’s office after he suggested removal. He continued talking about what the process would involve. Thankfully my parents were there because I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about “Pirates of the Caribbean” — specifically about the pirate with the false eye that constantly pops out and rolls away. I had a beautiful future ahead of me .

That was the only point of reference I had for what a “fake” eye was like. There are a number of things I wish I had known then about prosthetic eyes that I know now.

1. Prosthetic eyes are not round. This means (sadly) they do not roll away. Prosthetic eyes are more of a concave shape, and the shape is slightly different for each person. I often describe them as being like a giant contact lens.

2. You don’t get a prosthetic straight away. After surgery you have to wait for the swelling in your eye socket to go down, which can take a few weeks. After that you will go to an ocularist who will start working on your prosthesis.

3. You will spend a lot of time gazing deeply into your ocularist’s eyes. It’s awkward.

4. You may have a few failed eyes before you get the right one. I have a small collection of failed eyes I keep in my jewelry box. There are absolutely useless, and I would never wear them, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. They are like my little Frankenstein’s monsters that didn’t quite make it.

5. “Eye boogies.” An unfortunate side effect. Your eye socket registers the prosthesis as a foreign body which it then attempts to “flush” out. This will cause “eye boogies,” which in the process of trying to remove, results in me ripping out what feels like hundreds of eye lashes a day. Thanks, eye socket.

6. Your eye may go missing at inconvenient times. The amount of times I have been about to leave for work only to realize I don’t have my eye in and that I don’t know where it is… Often I discover it lurking in the depths of my bed.

Overall what I have learned is prosthetic eyes are nowhere near as scary as they initially seem. In fact, for me at least, having a prosthetic eye has made life just that little bit more amusing!

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