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I recently wrote about the three O’s of eye care (optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists), but I forgot to mention the fourth O of eye care: ocularists. I was reminded of this recently when a dinner guest told me a story about a distant relative who had a “glass eye” that he could take out of his head to surprise unsuspecting targets.
Very few people need to see an ocularist when compared to the other three O’s of eye care, but they provide a very specialized and important service to this small segment of the population. Ocularists are trained technicians skilled in the arts of fitting, shaping, and painting ocular prostheses (i.e. “glass eyes”). In addition to making ocular prostheses, ocularists teach patients how to handle and care for the prosthesis, and provide long-term care through periodic examinations.
Ocularists are true artists and are able to hand-craft an ocular prosthesis and paint it to look almost exactly like the original eye. The prosthesis will also move in the eye socket so that many people are often fooled into thinking the patient has two normal looking eyes.
To become an ocularist, one has to undergo an apprentice program and spend five years (10,000 hours) in practical training. The apprentice must also successfully complete 750 credits of related study courses offered by the American Society of Ocularists.
While many people believe that ocular prostheses are made of glass, modern ones are made of acrylic plastic.
If you are unfortunate enough to need your eye removed (tumor, trauma, painful eye with no vision), you will likely be seeing an ocularist who will aid in the recovery and make you look as if you never had surgery at all.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)