This is a great blog post sent to us by Bridget after her work here. Paul
Bridget: I first heard about ocularists back in Year 10. Working at the local bakery, I was talking to a customer about how I was interested in prosthetics and they mentioned that they knew of someone up in Perth who made prosthetic eye balls. I was fascinated and never forgot this encounter!
Now, years later I have finally been given the opportunity to satiate my curiosity for this unusual profession. I tracked down the ocularists in Perth, Paul and Jenny, who were so accommodating from the get go. They said that I was more than welcome to come down and have a look at their work. Teeing up my first year placement in Perth also, I now had an excuse to go for my much anticipated adventure!
Spending a week at the ocularists was an incredible experience. I remember thinking when their first client came in, “ do they even have an artificial eye?” By the end of the week I could mostly pick artificial eyes from non-artificial ones, but in some cases it was still pretty tricky!
The thing that struck me about Paul and Jenny was their calm, gentle nature. Their work and surroundings reflected this… the lunch space (to my delight) consisted of a shared table, an old comfy sofa, a guitar and an easel. “This is my sort of place,” I thought instantly.
For Paul and Jenny, even a rushed day appears to be a pleasure. Offering cups of tea and coffee to their clients, sitting down and taking the time to have a chat and a catch up really shows the genuine care they have for those who visit them. Complete strangers or old friends, a hectic schedule or a lazy afternoon, Paul and Jenny will always make time to show that they are interested in each and every person.
Despite all of this, somehow they manage to get an incredible amount of work done in between. Observing the production of a prosthetic eye is a fascinating process. It was fantastic how creative these people were in their work place… ocularists are a very small profession and the creativeness and improvisation with the tools they had created for themselves fascinated me. Many of these tools were so simple but amazingly practical and specific for their purpose. I learnt an absolute heap, considering that before I visited I thought that the eyes were like a whole sphere, and had no idea what a coral implant was!
Paul and Jenny were very good. They smiled and answered when I asked my ignorant questions, and encouraged me to have a go making my own prosthetic eye. It’s a lot harder than they make it out to be… these guys are experts!
By the end of the week I had a pretty good idea what went on at an ocularists. One of the most interesting thing I found during the week was listening to the stories of some of their clients – I was awestruck by these people – by their resilience and good humour but also their honesty and truthfulness.
The week I spent with the Geelens was a once in a lifetime opportunity. These people are very special and can be proud of the difference they are making in the lives of so many. Thankyou for having me!