Tag Archives: scleral shell

Scleral Shell Update

When it was determined that my son’s eye wouldn’t turn out to be a functioning globe, we started the process of getting him a scleral shell.  I didn’t know anything about scleral shells or who made them (Occularists) or how it was done.  I found very little information on the internet.  So, I decided that I would cover Mik’s quest for a normal looking eye in this blog.  If you came here because of the scleral shell tags, you’ll want to read all the posts under my eye injury category.   

Mik wore his shell through the end of the school year.  After one trip to his retina specialist in the late spring, he was put on antibiotics because his eye was red and gunky.  His eye didn’t seem to clear up with treatment so I called the Occularist to find out if there was something we were doing wrong in cleaning it, etc.  The lady that made our shell was no longer at this office so we went in to meet with Jim. 

I’m a little irritated to find out that the quality of Mik’s shell was not as good as it should have been.  According to Jim, the redness and gunk was more likely to be from chronic irritation because the shell was not as smooth or as well polished as it should have been.  Jim did a re-polish and sent Mik home to wear it for a while to see if all was well.

Truthfully, Mik hasn’t been wearing it because it is summer and he is swimming all the time.  We chose to take it out while he is swimming and its been easier to just not put it in at all.   The couple of hours he did wear it over the summer, it seemed like the situation wasn’t any better.   His eye turns blood-red when he wears it and he started complaining about it feeling like it was pinching him. 

This time when we returned to Jim, he decided to grind down the edges and suggested that we gradually increase his wearing time until we get to 6-8 hours a day.  Just like with contact lenses, this will trick the eye into accepting the shell as normal and will not get irritated when the shell is in.  The adjustments that Jim made to the edges of shell makes it smaller so it doesn’t sit so far under the eyelids.   

I want Mik to have a prosthetic that he is comfortable with and feels good about wearing but I gotta admit that I’m a little irritated that we are having to come back for so many adjustments.  Maybe this is normal but it didn’t seem like this was communicated to us before.  Perhaps I am a little more aggravated because there are only a handful of occularist in the country so we have to drive over an hour for every appointment.  I’m just glad we don’t end up waiting for hours in a waiting room like we do when we see the retina or cornea specialists. 

I must remember that these are minor things.  The shell still looks fantastic and I even had trouble remembering which eye to take out today.



Filed under Eye Injury, family

A New Eye: Steps 3 – Complete

Mik has been wearing his Scleral Shell for almost a month now. It looks amazing. You can read about the first steps here and how we got here. These posts are primarily for those who are in need of information on prosthetic eyes.

Now, a discussion on the Scleral Shell process.

Step 3. – Color Match
After Mik wore the clear Conformer for a few months, we went back to the Ocularist to begin building the custom shell. Our Ocularist , Bev, first matched the color of the white part, the sclera, then picked “button” that was similar in color to the iris of the good eye.

When I first met my husband, I was enamored with the color of his eyes. I thought his dark blue eyes looked like a stormy sky. I was pleased when both boys were born with the same color. Turns out, I don’t know anything about eye color because they are grey not blue. I guess I was still right about the stormy sky part.

Step 4. Open That Lid
Bev added some wax to the front of the clear Conformer to determine how much thicker the shell needed to be to open Mik’s eyelid enough to appear normal.

Step 5. Custom Paint Job
Custom paint jobs aren’t just for cars and motorcycles anymore, Mik has a custom painted eye. A week after selecting the starting colors, Bev channeled her artistic talents to create a master piece.

She held a white shell with a blue-grey center in her hand. I could tell from the shape that this was the opaque shell she had poured after our last meeting.

The first step was to apply super thin red fibers to represent the redness and veins in the corners of the eyes. Then she studied his iris under high light, low light and at angles. She measured his pupil and stuck a black spot in the center of the shell.

The custom paint job took about an hour then we were free to head home for the night. Meanwhile, Bev gave the shell a final clear coating to give it the glassy-eyed look.

Step 6 – Drive It Off The Lot
The next afternoon, we gave the Scleral shell a test drive then our final approval. It seemed like it took all of five minutes and five pictures before we were in the car taking the masterpiece home.

Completion – Mik wore the shell all through Thanksgiving. The reviews were five stars and two thumbs up. At first, people didn’t realize that something was different because it just looks like it should. My nephew came into the bathroom while I was putting it in Thanksgiving morning. (I am in charge of putting the shell in until Mik is confident enough to try it) When Mik showed my nephew what he looked like before and after, my nephew exclaimed, “YOU LOOK AMAZING!”

Most importantly, he looks like himself.




** Bev may have to add a little more thickness to prop the eye lid up but no one notices it but me.

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Filed under Eye Injury