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What happens after you lose an eye.

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

My eye was removed on April 29, 2021. This is called an Enucleation, “the surgical procedure that involves removal of the entire globe and its intraocular contents, with preservation of all other periorbital and orbital structures.”

For a short period, my eye was stitched completely shut. Once the stitches were removed I could finally see the new full me. There is reddish-pink eye tissue covering the surgically placed implant in the socket my eye once lived in. With the stitches removed it meant the injury was healed and now it was time to start the prosthetic eye-making process. I went to see an Ocularist. There are only two in San Diego, 11 in California, and 250 in all of the US (including Canada). It is a trade you have to be taught by someone else since there is no school for it. It’s often a family trade passed down from generation or you find someone who will apprentice you.

I have discovered a few different ways a prosthetic eye is made between the videos online, people sharing their stories with me, and research I have done. This is by no means every single way but is my knowledge of the process based on my own and others' experiences. The implant is made of either steel, plastic, or most commonly coral. The coral ones allow the eye tissue to grow around it more efficiently. The implant secures the structure of the eye socket. My implant is attached to my existing eye muscles so I can control the movement of my eye when the prosthetic shell sits on it. The prosthetic shell is made from polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). The shell slides under the top and bottom eyelids which helps to hold it in place and the shell sits on top of the implant. It moves ever so slightly with my muscles. It’s quite impressive. Yes, the prosthetic is a scleral shell or half of a sphere rather than a round glass marble. I think many people have this misconception.

My first prosthetic eye was made in four appointments each one week apart from the other.

  • Appointment 1: The mold was made by squeezing a plaster-like mixture where the implant would go and letting it sit for one minute. It created an exact mold of my eye structure.

  • Appointment 2: Shaping the wax mold created from the plaster mold. The wax mold was placed in my eye sock and removed multiple times. It was adjusted by melting it and carving it with a metal tool.

  • Appointment 3: Every detail of my prosthetic was hand-painted simply by the Ocularist looking at my other eye. He took zero photos and used zero computers or imaging technology. The artistic skill was unbelievable to witness! To apply the tiny veins in the white part of the eye he cut tiny pieces of red thread, pulled the thread apart to make it even smaller, and then adhered them to the prosthetic itself. He used this machine which I believed helped to polish and shape the eye for finishing touches.

  • Appointment 4: I arrived for the final fitting and to take home the prosthetic eye. When he put the eye in I wanted to cry. I felt so overwhelmed by the whole process and I suppose I had gotten used to myself without the prosthetic eye. Even with the prosthetic eye, I didn’t recognize myself. This was a challenging day for me, where It felt like the reality of everything finally hit.

There was an issue with the first prosthetic eye because the original mold caused the prosthetic to rotate in my eye socket. The eye would look up and off to the right and no matter what I did it would rotate away from the center. We had to remake the prosthetic eye, and I received a new one in about the middle of September 2021. The second prosthetic we made in a single day. I was there all day and left with an eye at the end. It was similar to the first process just sped up. With the new eye, the pupil and iris stay in the center and I am much happier with it, except I still struggle with the size of the eye itself. It looks slightly larger than my natural eye. My friends and family tell me it looks good. Personally, I think I am still getting used to having a prosthetic eye now.

It’s challenging for me to remove the eye and put it back in which I wasn’t expecting. I’m sure with more practice and patience it will get easier. When I leave the eye in it gets dry, irritated, and sometimes hard to blink. Honestly, when I don’t wear the prosthetic, I am more comfortable and feel more confident. I try to wear it so I don’t weird people out with my missing eye. Some people have told me that it bothers them when I don't wear my prosthetic eye. When I don’t wear my prosthetic eye I wear a clear shield called a conformer. This helps to protect the eye and hold the shape of my eye socket. The clear conformer has become my favorite thing so far from this whole prosthetic eye process.

It’s easy for me to remember that things could be a lot worse and I try to keep a very positive outlook on the situation. I’ve dedicated a lot of action and vibrance to finding people on social media who also have a prosthetic eye and connecting with each of them. This gives me a lot of comfort in finding other people who are in similar situations and hearing their stories, seeing how they live life with one eye, and learning about their prosthetic eye process. This is what gave me the idea to create EYEHESIVE a place to bring all these individuals together. I didn’t like feeling alone during this life-changing event and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way either. If you have a prosthetic eye journey or a vision impairment story you want to share with us. I would love to connect with you. Check out our community page at

[Edited for clarity by @jacobfromutah]

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