Unlike real eyes, prosthetic eyes don’t grow, and in children who grow quickly, they need to be replaced once every few years. Elise’s first prosthetic eye was done in April 2017. We observed that the prosthetic eye kept moving out of alignment. After a consultation with Dr Ganga, he advised us to get a new one fitted.
Prosthetic eyes are handmade, and the process requires roughly three working days, including the time it takes for curing and drying. We got ours done with the same ocularist at NUH, Dr Sue.
The clinic is a small enclosed space featuring some prosthetic samples. The more complicated eye prosthetics include those made of latex to mimic the flesh surrounding the eye.
This is the imprint of Elise’s eye cavity and this is what the base of the prosthetic eye has to look like in order for it to fit snugly. I didn’t take a photo, but this was done by pouring a mixture through a mould that was fitted onto her eye cavity.
This is a brief summary and I can’t fully convey the full experience as 80% of the time involved waiting – Elise playing or on the phone watching YouTube, me mindlessly checking social media. On one particular day, I packed in a huge sticker book and other activities and my shoulder nearly gave way because I carried a tote bag.
It involves a lot of fitting and adjustment to get the angle and position right. Mainly, what we want to do is to determine the specific placement of the pupil, whether it should be right smack in the centre, or a little nearer to the nose.
Time for a #momjoke – this is Elise side-eyeing her eye. Every eye is handmade and it’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s not oval shaped, but it has a little pointed tip at the top so it holds in place.
Next, Dr Sue adds details to the eye using pigments to make it more realistic. Most of the time for Asian children, their pupils are black. Westerners have more complicated eye details and there’s a technology that can print the pupil onto the base, but it’s a film and likely isn’t as lasting.
Dr Sue mostly handles Asian patients, and paints the details by hand. This won’t be Elise’s last prosthetic eye, and we will likely have to fabricate a few more eyes before she reaches adulthood.
One thing Dr Sue advised was not to remove the prosthetic eye regularly as it affects her lower eyelid and its capability to hold the eye.
This is how she looks like now with the new eye! Due to the better fit, it doesn’t move around that much anymore. It has limited functions, like it can’t follow along when she rolls her eyes, something she does pretty often nowadays, but it’ll do!