In my Darwin clinic I sometimes come across people who have had the same artificial eye for decades. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes it is because people live in a remote region and do not know what services are available for them. Some people are too busy to think about it. Some people don’t want to think about it. Maybe it is a combination of a few of these factors. Whatever the reason there is usually an eye in place that no longer fits the socket very well.
When you are breaking in a new prosthetic eye, there is always a settling in period. It is common that over time small adjustments may be needed to maintain the natural apprearance. This is particularly true if you’ve had your previous artificial eye for many years.
In these circumstances the new eye I make looks fabulous at first. However, a few weeks later I will get calls that the eye is drying out and the eyelid is catching. In another case the eyelid is just about closed over and the eye appears sunken. What is occuring here is that the old eye had caused stretching and swelling in the eye socket. As the eye tissue settles down, the swelling reduces and causes the new eye to look and feel wrong.
In the city this change is easy for me to address with a quick adjustment to the prosthetic eye. For my clients living in remote areas a visit isn’t really possible. For these clients there are two options. One is waiting six months till I get back for my next clinic. The second is to put the eye in an express post bag with photos and send it to me. I can use an educated guess to do a temporary fix based on telephone descriptions and pictures. While it is certainly not ideal this long distance management usually provides some measure of assistance until the next clinic.
Swelling and stretching in the socket are not the only possible consequences of keeping an eye for far too long. I have seen many cases where the prosthetic eye has cracked. If left unattended, the constant rubbing of the eye lids over the cracks has been known to cause cancerous sores on the eye lids.
I know it can be a challenge to get your own needs to the very top of the list but getting a new eye is something you should think about every few years. Your ocularist can help you decide exactly when a change is needed.