Matthias Buckel oculariste
263, rte de St-Julien
tél: 022 771 21 53
Email: info at oculariste.ch
Filmed by Marin Raguz
The loss of an eye after an accident or a disease is always a traumatic experience. For that Humans tried since ever to replace the missing organ by an ocular prosthesis, to restore the appearance.
In Egyptian times, we find eyes in jewels or painted glass. But they are exclusively for burials.
First notice of usefull prosthesis is found in the writings of the French Doctor Ambroise Paré (1510-1590). They were made of gold or silver spheres with a painted iris (the color of the eye). It was heavy ,uncomfortable and expensive.
At what time the first glass prosthesis appeared isn’t clearly defined, but we can suppose it was a venetian invention around the year 1600, because in Shakespeare’s King Lear, glass eyes are mentioned.
In the 18th Century, French prosthesis are the most required because of their quality. They were half spheres of cutted glass, which fits best in the orbital cavity, which is never really circular. But being thin, they aren’t always esthetic. This kind of « cutted » thin prosthesis are still in use nowadays to cover, for example, a small bad looking eye or when the room in the orbit is very small.
Around 1835, a glassblower: Ludwig MUELLER-URI living in LAUSCHA, Thüringen, a small glassmakers town in Germany, starts to make prosthesis and very soon his production is really better than the French work.
In those times, the glass contained lead, which irritates and made a change of the prosthesis necessary every 6 months. The glassmakers of Lauscha developed a new glass containing a mineral: Kryolithe(NaAIF3), allowing more resistant prosthesis (two, three years) and a real natural look. We are still using this glass, which is even now the best material and made by the same glass-fabric in Lauscha.
An another important innovation was the « double-prosthesis » in 1889, a more thicker prosthesis which allows to compensate the loss of substance in the cavity.