Caring for Your Artificial Eye.
One of the most common questions presented at the clinic is when to clean a prosthesis. Generally, it is not necessary to remove your artificial eye unless discomfort or excessive discharge is experienced. As long as your artificial eye feels comfortable it can be worn all the time. Wearing overnight is acceptable – it may also prevent eyelashes from turning inwards and irritating the socket lining.
Current advice is that an artificial eye should be left alone as much as possible. Many patients attend every six months for a professional clean and may never remove it in between visits. Just how often an eye should be removed and cleaned in the long term, will be an individual’s preference. However, appreciating care is an important part of wearing an artificial eye.
It can be washed in warm, water with ordinary unscented hand soap – no expensive solutions are needed – then rinsed thoroughly and replaced. Care should be taken to avoid dropping the eye where it could be chipped, or even lost.
If you prefer to remove your eye throughout the night, it is best to store it in a container of water. Storing an eye in this way, will prevent the prosthesis from completely drying out.
A person with a Cosmetic Shell (a prosthesis that is worn on top of a blind or disfigured eye) should always remove it at night to allow the real eye underneath to “breathe” and prevent shrinkage from oxygen “starvation”.
It is not unusual if you experience some discharge from your socket. The lining is essentially a mucous membrane and symptoms can vary with changes in atmosphere, weather, etc. However, if your socket appears to have any signs of infection, (redness & inflammation, or excessive discharge, pain, etc.) your General Practitioner should be contacted as simple infections can often be treated quickly and effectively with antibiotic drops or ointment. A weak Saline solution (½ teaspoon of Salt in ½ pint of lukewarm water) can be used in an eye bath to wash out your socket if necessary. However you should avoid washing out your socket too often, as this can actually increase production of mucous.
NEVER attempt to clean an artificial eye with detergents, disinfectants or alcohol. They will permanently damage the surface of an artificial eye.
If you feel your socket needs lubrication, Artificial tears (available from pharmacies) are used by some people, but their effect can disperse quite quickly. An alternative is a small amount of the personal lubricant K-Y Jelly (available from pharmacies). Again it’s up to personal preference.
Remember: Always handle any Ocular Prostheses with clean hands.