History of Artificial Eyes in Australia
What do you know about the history of the ocularist profession in Australia?
In the early days artificial eyes were called glass eyes. Ocularists were referred to as Ocular Prosthetists. We would appreciate any historical information or stories relating to either the makers of artificial eyes.
A History of Ocularists in Western Australia
This material is a work in progress. We have gathered it from the recollections of people who attend our clinic. and the State Library of Western Australia.
“A man came to the Fremantle Hospital with a box of eyes and fitted a new eye. I called him Mr “B”. The first eye he gave me cost 2’ and 6. The second cost 10 shillings and the third cost 1 guinea. He had a place in Hay Steet Perth. I had to catch the train up.”
This man came from the eastern states to conduct clinics in Perth. The WA State Film Archives Collection has a film made in 1947 that shows Mr Schaler making glass eyes.
” Mr Schaler would come over from the east and would notify a lady who lived near me. I was married by then with two children. I only had two glass eyes made by him. The first was successful. However, the second exploded in the socket and came out in two pieces. People who’d worked with me for ten years were amazed. They’d never realised that it wasn’t my eye.
I can remember Mr Schaler cutting his finger while he was blowing the glass and swearing a bit. He was an elderly man. He was quite a nice person.“ Marjorie Pitchers
This ocularist visited Perth from the eastern states to conduct clinics. This man made acrylic artificial eyes.
“He was very nice. He was a kind and gentle man who was interested in you as a person. He retired and then called me up and told me he didn’t like being retired. He said, “I think I will come back. Later he phoned me he again and told me he really was going to retire. He recommended Margaret Geelen.” Marjorie Pitchers
Ocularist at Royal Perth
Maureen L. tells us that she had her artificial eye made at Royal Perth Hospital twenty nine years ago. She does not recall the name of the eye maker.
1986-87 He operated in Richardson Street in West Perth.
1978-79 was a dental prosthetic worker who make eyes for a while. At first he worked with Mr Allen and then he operated by himself in South Perth.
Gary Blonde worked for a while in Wembley. During this time he was assisted by Gary Bun.
Margaret Geelen 1980-
Margaret Geelen moved from New Guinea with her family to Perth in 1980. She saw an advertisement for the business the day she arrived in Perth and bought the business the next day. Alex Powell helped train Margaret and returned to the business several times to assist her. Margaret had a background in nursing. Margaret trained Paul and Jenny who still run the practice in West Perth today.
“Margaret used to say to Paul. You make one and I’ll make one. She gave me the one Paul made as a trial, and hers to wear. She said, “Next time Paul’s will be even better.”
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