The documentary The Last Glass Eye Maker In England highlights the end of an era for a man who has made glass eyes all his life. Glass eyes look magnificent and keep their shine forever.
We have several relics here in our clinic and the craftsmanship is wonderful. I can understand that it is sad for the eye maker not to be able to pass that skill on to someone else, as the real loss of glass eye making is the loss of the craft and the skill.
Perhaps what the film maker missed is that what is a sad state of affairs for the craftsman is not so sad for the people who wear artificial eyes. Artificial eyes are almost always now crafted from high grade acrylic by Ocularists. For people who wear an eye prosthesis, the glass eye had several disadvantages:
- Glass eyes cannot be fitted with the same accuracy as the glass is blown rather than moulded to the eye socket.
- Glass eyes can’t be adjusted as an acrylic eye can. This is an issue as eye tissue changes with the aging process.
- Glass eyes are vulnerable to breakage – they have a habit of imploding in the eye socket when there is a sudden temperature change. This is probably the major disadvantage.
There is a great deal of craftsmanship that goes into the making of a well fitting prosthetic eye whether it is glass or acrylic. Achieving a natural look requires years of experience. So while the era of the glass eye is nearing an end, the craft and the skill involved in hand-made eye prosthetics will continue its honourable tradition through the experienced hands of professional Ocularists all around the world.