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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Artificial Eyes

Q: How is the artificial eye held in?

A: An artificial eye is held in place by the eyelids and an appropriate fit on the back side of the prosthesis.

Q: Do ocular prosthetics move?

A: Yes, most prosthetics move. The two biggest factors are the movement of the tissue in the anophthalmic socket and the fit of the prosthesis.

Q: Does Health Insurance cover ocular prosthetics?

A: Most insurance plans cover new and replacement artificial eyes, scleral shells, twice yearly polishes and adjustments. We work with most insurance plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, Group Health, Premera BlueCross, Regence, AETNA, DSHS, Guardian, First Choice, Secure Horizons, LifeWise and many HMO's. Please call or email us if you have a question about coverage or referrals. In most cases, we can get the referral started for you!

Q: How long does an artificial eye last?

A: Typically, an artificial eye lasts about 5 years before it needs to be replaced. Tissue changes in the socket, anatomical growth, and breakdown of the acrylic are the primary reasons for replacement. Due to growth spurts, prosthetics in children tend to last 3-4 years before requiring replacement.

Q: I just had my eye removed, what are the next steps?

A: Following an enucleation or evisceration surgery, a patient is fit with a clear conformer, a curved shape that helps form the inside of the eye socket. This first fitting is usually done at the time of surgery by the surgeon.

Ideally, we see patients 1-2 weeks after the surgery. This visit allows us to meet with the patient & family, explain our process and ease anxiety about the restoration. During the initial visit, we exchange the conformer, replacing the generic post-op conformer with a custom-fit conformer.

The patient returns approximately every 2 weeks, to monitor healing and change the conformer as swelling reduces. These visits are important for the final fit and movement of the prosthesis.

About 6-8 weeks after the surgery, when the swelling has reduced enough for a tissue impression, and we begin the prosthesis. How long does it take to make an artificial eye?

It usually takes four appointments to make an artificial eye. An eye can be completed over the span of one to two weeks, depending on one's preferred schedule.

Q: How often should an artificial eye be polished?

A: We recommend a polish every 6 months for most patients. This visit allows us to remove the built-up protein, bacteria and scratches on the prosthetic surface. We also examine the fit of the prosthesis and the condition of the anophthhalmic socket.

Q: Is an artificial eye or scleral shell cosmetic?

A: The purpose of an artificial eye and scleral shell is to return the eye socket to normal volume, eyelid function and drainage function. Since they are medically necessary, ocular prosthetics are covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Q: My child was born with microphthalmia, is an ocular prosthesis necessary?

A: A prosthetic can help the proper development of the facial structures by adding necessary volume and pressure. The presence of the prosthesis helps the eyelids, fissure opening, and orbital tissues grow and maintain appropriate size and shape.

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