Allergies to Plastic

Eye discharge and irritation often leads to the incorrect diagnosis of allergy to plastics.   People are advised that they will need to wear a glass eye.  The reality is that a prosthesis made from medical grade acrylic, properly cured and fitted generally overcomes this type of difficulty.

We had someone come to us from New Zealand who had struggled with this issue for twenty-three years.  In desperation she wore an ill-fitting glass eye.  She had believed that the discomfort and compromised appearance caused by the eye was her very best option.  We were so confident we could solve the problem we told her if we couldn’t make it better we wouldn’t charge her.  As we had guessed her problems had been a combination of poor fit and poor curing of the prosthesis.  After twenty-three years she is now wearing a comfortable attractive prosthesis.  She has changed to a day shift at her hospital job because she no longer tries to disguise how she looks.  We love solving these types of problems for people; it makes our job very satisfying.

We recently had a client visit from Malaysia who couldn’t wear her prosthesis more than a few hours a day.  She said it felt like she had several eyelashes in her eye.  We discovered that the eye was poorly polished and fitted.  She was experiencing the effects of several scratches over the lens.  It is wonderful to share her joy at how comfortable her new eye is.  She now wears it twenty-four hours a day for four weeks at a stretch.  We might meet someone with an allergy to plastic one day but so far we have been able to sort out every case.  The real allergy is to inferior plastics or a poorly fitted prosthesis.

Have you been diagnosed with an allergy to plastic? What was your experience? I am interested to hear what other people think about this?

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2 Responses to “Allergies to Plastic”

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  1. Avatar for Rebecca Hunter Rebecca Hunter says:

    This article has fascinated me because I am pretty convinced I am allergic to the plastic my scleral cosmetic lens is made of.
    I get a stringy discharge and my lids are red when I wear my new lens for about 2 hours or more.
    I have worn a previous lens for 25 years with no problem so I am curious as to why my eye is reacting to this lens material now. I can only assume the lens is a different type of plastic.
    I would welcome your comments.

    • Avatar for Paul Paul says:

      Hi Rebecca,
      While many people claim to be allergic to the plastic used for their artificial eye, there are only a few that have genuine allergies to the chemical make up of the plastic. The symptoms you discribe is probably Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC). GPC is a type of allergic conjunctivitis. In GPC, a foreign body causes prolonged mechanical irritation, which results in a reaction in the eye. Most commonly, contact lenses are the foreign body causing the irritation.
      It is likely that you need to see your ocularist again to have the shell polished or reshaped. Microscopic scratches on the surface of the artificial eye may be causing the symptoms you are talking about. Often a small adjustment will fix the problem.
      I hope this helps.
      Paul Geelen (Ocularist)

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