A Detailed Guide to Prosthetic Eye Movement

A prosthetic eye, known colloquially as an ‘artificial eye’, has been used in various forms for thousands of years. Centuries ago, they used to be called ‘glass eyes’ since they were actually made of glass. With modern medical technologies, the surgery needed to insert such a prosthesis has become a lot simpler.

Still, plenty of questions remain. Perhaps the most recurrent doubts the recipient has are about prosthetic eye movements. It is a very natural question to have since it directly affects the afflicted person’s eyesight in particular and mobility in general.

This post will try and answer some of the frequently asked questions about optical prosthetics.

Do prosthetic eyes move? 

The one-word answer is yes, they do. These specialized implants are designed by registered ocularists using modern materials like silicon and its derivatives, although plastic acrylic is still used to great effect. One reason why acrylic is still in fashion is its relatively lower cost and durability.

This acts as the outer shell which is white in color just as natural eyes are.

An ocularist also uses a special type of synthetic material called poly methyl methacrylate, known simply as PMMA. This forms the corneal implant which is then painted over using non-reactive and skin-friendly colors to match the irises.

During the surgical process (especially if it is your first implant), the ophthalmologist ensures that a lot of skin tissue is used to cover up the area where the implant goes in.

The next step involves the connection of the eye’s muscles (only the 6 extraocular muscles that are involved with the eyeball’s movement including the Recti and Oblique muscles) to the tissue so that normal prosthetic eye movement is made possible.

Since every individual has variously sized eye cavities and maxillary bone structures, the ocularist has to make every set differently. These unique implants take some time to heal given that the surgical is an invasive one.

Do prosthetic eyes move upon recuperation? Yes, their movement mimics that of the original eye very precisely and can follow the same trajectories. However, please note that despite the rapid advancement of implants and surgical practices in general, the artificial eye will never quite be as dexterous as its counterpart.

There are some experiments ongoing in several major universities where 3D printing is being used to create artificial eyes. The latest results show that they are as capable as our natural eyes and often beat them too.

It is likely that when such bionic eyes hit mainstream surgeries sometime in the near future, the answer to ‘can prosthetic eyes move’ will be quite obvious!

Connecting with a local clinic that excels in the manufacture of custom prosthetic eyes would be a great idea at this juncture.

How about limitations on movement? 

There are bound to be a few restrictions on the movement of the artificial eye.

The answer to the common question- can prosthetic eyes move- would be incomplete without mentioning a few systemic problems that might occasionally cause problems.

Some of the most noticeable causes are the following:

  • Previous surgical complications: The chances of irregular prosthetic eye movement rise if there have been any surgical complications of the eyelid, or for ptosis and an array of muscular disorders. Since there is always a chance that the eye cavity might suffer damage (no matter how little it might be), the unique set of prosthetics will not fit right.

This can cause increased strain on the eye’s muscles to move the prosthetic, resulting in constant and throbbing pain.

  • Conditions like ectropion and/or entropion: These are 2 separate conditions where the eyelid is affected. They are often seen together, although most people develop only one of these conditions. The eyelid turns inwards and the lashes brush against the eyeball, leaving it in some discomfort.

Can prosthetic eyes move despite these conditions? Yes, provided the underlying cause is eliminated. Both of these conditions can be cured either by surgery (which is minimally invasive) or via a regular regimen of antimicrobial eye drops and exercises.

  • Weakened eye muscles: This is, without doubt, the leading cause of limitations on the free movement of the prosthetic. Eye muscles are weakened due to age, use of steroidal drops, genetic conditions, not using proper reading glasses, and constantly using an LED or LCD screen for varying purposes.

If the muscles lose their strength, there will be problems in moving the artificial eye in sync with the original one.

For solutions to all these problems, it is recommended that you consult your ocularist and then the ophthalmologist.

It is also advisable to consult a surgeon who specializes in cosmetic eye surgery.