Frequently Asked Questions
ARTIFICIAL EYES INFORMATION
What is an artificial eye and what does it do?
An artificial eye (eye prosthesis, ocular prosthesis) is a solid, seamless, non-permanent, removable-implant (FDA class 1 device) that serves to replace the lost orbital volume when the living eye is either shrunken or surgically removed. The visible surface of the prosthesis is designed to appear very lifelike, attempting to match the companion eye, if one is present. Although an ocular prosthesis does not have vision of its own, a prosthetic eye is medically necessary for many reasons, the most common are: enabling a sited-companion eye to see and function better by eliminating negative symptoms of sympathetic-opthalmia (the condition where the health of one eye / eye socket either helps or harms the health of the companion eye / eye socket), eliminating physical stress caused by facial imbalance of the eyelids, eliminating the recurrence of chronic infection characteristic of a compromised eye socket, halting anatomical asymmetry and disfigurement by inhibiting the skull and surrounding tissue from migrating into a recessed eye socket and, in the case of a child, enable the skull, sinuses and facial tissue to grow proportionally and properly. However, the most obvious medical benefit to patients wearing eye prostheses is the restoration of natural facial anatomy.
How long does it take to make an eye prosthesis?
All ocular prostheses made at the Real Life Center are custom designed. However, despite the high focus and labor intensive process necessary for creating world-class quality prostheses, our staff works efficiently. Thus, for patients traveling from out of town, special arrangements can be made where the prosthesis can be completed in as little as 2 days. For local patients, typically 3 to 4 appointments are required and span over a two to four week period. However, due to the specific needs of each patient, new patients may require additional appointments in order to fulfill the optimum standard of care.
What are the specific steps involved in making an artificial eye?
Appointments are arranged in the following procedures: 1) initial evaluation 2) impression molding (which is often done during the evaluation visit) 3) prosthetic model fitting with iris and sclera ocular anatomy design 4) fitting of the completed prosthesis and 5) a two week follow-up appointment for post fitting evaluation. After the completion of these appointments, follow up visits are necessary to monitor the health of the eye socket and to reglaze / polish the prosthesis. These visits are typically every six months, but frequency varies per patient.
How long does an artificial eye last?
Modern artificial “plastic” eyes (unlike old glass eyes) last for many years when properly cared for. Most ocularists report a replacement prosthesis is required every 3 to 5 years for adults due to: 1) aging plastic (which is often not visible but becomes appearent when the patient begins to expereince a chronic mucus discharge – called chronic excudate). 2) Changes in anatomy due to shifting tissue, and 3) orbit development from growth. In the case of children, eye prostheses are enlarged or replaced frequently to stay proportional with growth.
How do I obtain an artificial eye?
Simply contact us by email or phone to make an appointment. Our Online Patient Form is the most convenient method of contact and is found under the Contact menu.
Is it necessary to return to the ocularist on a regular basis?
Yes. Modern standard of care dictates that patients require follow-up visits to monitor the health of the eye socket and to reglaze / polish the prosthesis every four to six months. The “old world” standard of care was to allow the patient to remove the prosthesis themselves for cleaning, but this low standard of care brings with it continued inflammation, mucus discharge, infection, ill fitting prostheses and other clinical issues more serious in nature. However, in cases where the socket anatomy is compromised, such as the inability to blink or close the eye, different care protocol will apply and is best determined on an individual basis with patient follow up.
What is the RealLifeEye™ ocular technology?
The RealLifeEye™ technology describes our unique and proprietary eye prosthesis fabrication process. What makes our RealLifeEye™ocular prostheses so desirable is their amazing life-like appearance and the ability to match the companion eye very closely in color and appearance. See the Technologies and Ocular sections for more detailed information.
Why are eye prostheses often referred to as “Glass eyes”?
“Glass eye prosthetic”, “glass prosthetic” and “glass eye” are older terms used to describe prosthetic eyes. Before World War II eye prostheses were actually made of glass.
What is the history of prosthetic eyes?
Artificial eye-making has been practiced since ancient times. The first ocular prostheses were made by Roman and Egyptian priests as early as the fifth century B.C. In those days, artificial eyes were made of painted clay attached to cloth and worn outside the socket.It took many centuries for the first in-socket artificial eyes to be developed. At first, these were made of gold with colored enamel. Then, in the later part of the sixteenth century, the Venetians started making artificial eyes out of glass. These early glass eyes were crude, uncomfortable to wear, and very fragile. Even so, the Venetians continued making them and kept their methods secret until the end of the eighteenth century. After that, the center for artificial eye-making shifted to Paris for a time; but by the mid-nineteenth century, German glass-blowers had developed superior techniques, and the center for glass eye-making moved to Germany.Shortly thereafter, glass eye-making was introduced in the United States. During World War II, the imported German glass used for glass prostheses became unavailable in this country. As a result of this shortage, the U.S. Government, in conjunction with a number of American firms, popularized the techniques for making artificial eyes out of acrylic plastic.The popularity of this method has continued to increase over the years, and today the vast majority of patients wear ocular prostheses made of acrylic.
Where is your home office?
Real Life’s home Center is located in the heart of Little Rock’s medical community, near UAMS, VA Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, St. Vincent’s Medical Center and the State Hospital and is easily accessible from Interstate 630 off of exit 3B. Our location at 3924 W. Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72205
What Airport should I fly into to visit the Center?
For International or out-of-State patients, it is convenient to fly into Little Rock Airport due to its close proximity to the Center (15 min away.) However, flying into the Memphis, TN airport may be more convenient depending on where your flight is coming from. The Memphis airport is only a two hour drive from the Little Rock Center and fifteen minutes from the Memphis clinic.
Where should I stay while visiting the clinic?
There are many excellent hotels in Little Rock and Memphis. Our patients have a wide range of preferences and expectations so we suggest that you visit an online hotel review site to make your choice. If you wish to know the distance from the hotel to our Little Rock facility, use the address (220 North Van Buren Little Rock, AR 72205).
I can’t find your services locally, can I be treated closer to my home?
Many of Real Life’s patients have traveled to the Center from all over the world to receive the unique alloplastic technologies and artistry not offered locally. Eye and facial alloplastic technologies are only offered at our Center and cannot be provided through another practitioner. However, in rare circumstances where patients have access to a knowable health care associate, hand, foot and finger prostheses can be made available through remote fabrication procedures.
How much do your prostheses cost?
Our prostheses and technologies are custom designed and there are also different options and services available, therefore each patient must be evaluated to determine cost. Please contact the Clinic to schedule an appointment for evaluation, or fill out the Online Patient Form under the Contact menu and include pictures.
Do you work with Veterans through the VA Medical Center?
We are proud to serve our Nation’s Veterans. Real Life has a long standing relationship with many of the VAs and gives Veteran referrals top priority.
Are your products and services covered by Medicare and Medicaid?
Through the Center of Alloplastic Facial Reconstruction, eye prostheses, facial prostheses (nasal, ear, orbital, and hemi-facial) and Intra-anatomy reconstructions are some of the offerings covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
Most of the exclusive technologies offered through RealLifeSkin are not covered by Medicare and Medicaid. These include: Finger, hand, toe, and foot prostheses as well as RealLifeSkin skin coverings. Also, the Premier and Photo-Mirror versions of the RealLifeEye Technologies are also not covered by Government payment programs. Express and Expedited Service charges are also not covered and billed separately.
Are your products and services covered by Medical Insurance?
Medical Insurance Companies vary greatly on coverage. Some companies and policies cover our products and services well, others do not. Prior review of your medical insurance policy with our office is standard procedure.
Do you offer Financing?
We gladly accept Visa and MasterCard. We also offer Care Credit to help you finance the purchase. The Lion’s Club of America also helps families needing eye prostheses.