Titanium Pegs and Artificial Eyes

It’s easy for misconceptions to spread about artificial eyes. For example, how many times have you heard people refer to a “glass eye”? While this was correct fifty years ago, artificial eyes today are mostly made of plastic.

Many people we speak to also believe that an artificial eye is spherical when they are all different shapes but usually hollowed in the back. When we hear these misconceptions, we like to put them straight.

Another misconception concerns the use and benefits of titanium pegs with implants.

A titanium peg is deemed superior because it allows greater natural movement and prevents unwanted drifting than an implant on its own. A hole is drilled through the conjunctiva into the center of the implant, a peg inserted and the artificial eye is coupled to it.

But these benefits come at a cost.

The presence of the hole in the conjunctiva allows bacteria to infiltrate the coral implant. And that’s when the problem begins. It is easy for the openning to become infected.

When an infection takes hold, a heavy course of antibiotics is needed. Often, it can take several months to clear the infection.

Throughout Australia, titanium pegs are viewed differently. In the eastern states, they were a standard feature that accompanied the implant. But in Western Australia, they were optional. I am not sure if any doctors are still surgically instilling the pegs.

Because of the risk of infection, we don’t advocate the use of titanium pegs any more.

Speaking of coral implants, another misconception is that the artificial eye itself is made of coral.

This misunderstanding has probably been spread by the media. On hearing the word “coral”, the immediate assumption by the press is that ground-breaking work in the artificial eye world has led to the creation of coral eyes.

To clarify, artificial eyes are made of plastic. It’s the implant that’s made of coral. The artificial eye sits over the coral implant. The implant helps with eye movement and maintaining the shape of the socket.

Coral is used because it has similar properties to human bone. It is also porous, allowing blood vessels and muscles to grow through it. It therefore becomes part of the body.

So that’s those misconceptions rectified. If you have any questions about things you’ve heard and wondered about, please drop us a line and we’ll attempt to separate myth from fact.

More information on Artificial Eye Facts.
More information on Making Artificial Eyes.

One Response to “Titanium Pegs and Artificial Eyes”

You can skip to the end and leave a response.

  1. Avatar for Steve Steve says:

    I was born with a premature left eye, no retina or optic cord connecting to my brain but fortunately all the muscles and tear ducks worked. At the ripe old age of 3 Dr Stone of MGH, surgeon and Ray Jarling, ocularist worked together to make an artificial eye which used a magnet to help keep the eye in place and make it move more realistically. As I matured I started to have a sag in the eye socket and we discussed removing the magnet from the artificial eye to reduce the weight but leave the magnet behind the eye in place as I didn’t want to endure another surgery. All has worked out according to plan and I sincerely thank the two of them for all their efforts to let me live a somewhat normal life. Only drawback to the magnet idea is MRI’s which didn’t exist back in 1955.


Leave a Reply