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The Making of an Eye

Posted by Janet on July 21, 2008

If you have seen my posts about the prosthetic ear, I am now taking a continuation of that course this summer. For two classes we made a prosthetic eye. Since summer classes are typically accelerated, we focused on materials and techniques for making the eye and left out any patient-specific parts of the process for the next class. Read on for a summary of this process.

First my instructor demonstrated painting the iris. Here he is attaching an ocular button (the transparent half-sphere with a peg on one end) to an ocular disc, the surface on which we paint iris patterns.

Holding onto the peg of the ocular button, the iris is painted onto the disc.

Later the ocular button is removed (from the back side) and another one is glued to the front side. We used an existing prosthetic eye to make a mold since we were not working from patients. Typically a cast would have to be made from a patient’s eye and the mold would be made from this cast.
From Right to Left: painted ocular disc, ocular disc with ocular button attached to the front, and an existing eye from which we will make a mold.

The mold is covered in tin foil to prevent moisture from contaminating the materials. The ocular button with painted disc (middle in above picture) is placed into the mold, with the peg inserted into the hole in the mold so it would stay in place. White acrylic is prepared and placed into the mold. The mold is then pressed tight and placed in a heat curing unit.

This is what the eye looks like when removed from the mold. It was sanded down until smooth and that the clear part of the ocular button is once again visible. The sclera was tinted slightly and blood vessels added. The eye was then placed back into the mold with clear acrylic covering the front side this time.

Once the acrylic cures, the eye was removed from the mold. The rough edges were sanded away and the entire eye was polished to a high shine.

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