Last Updated: May 08, 2019     Views: 110

White glass eye, red blood vessel, gray iris, black pupil
Image: Glass eye made by Leopold Blaschka, possibly 1850-1887. CMoG 93.3.73-24.

Artificial eyes have been used by humans for centuries, and people are often surprised to learn that artificial eyes are not round.

Not Round?

In fact, in 2014, National Public Radio's Morning Edition aired the story, "Where We Learn that Artificial Eyes Really Aren't Round at All."

But Are They Glass?

Most artificial eyes today are not made of glass. They are often made of acrylic and some are even made of bio-compatible materials such as marine coral (see "Today's Artificial Eyes," College of Optometrists).

In 2012, the BBC published an article called, "The Last of the Glass Eye Makers,"  about Jost Haas, originally from Germany, who was the last glass eye maker in Britain.

So What Shape Are They?

According to "The Last of the Glass Eye Makers,"

A typical modern glass eye is not, as you might think, like a large solid marble. It is a hollow half sphere, a thin shell that fits over the non-working eye, if it is still there. Otherwise it goes over a ball that has been surgically implanted into the eye socket and attached to the eye muscles.

Online History of Artificial Eyes

Check out the virtual artificial eyes gallery hosted by The College of Optometrists, which covers artificial eyes in various forms and materials and for various purposes from the 5th century BCE to today.

This gallery situates glass eye production in its historical context and explains a bit more about how artificial eyes have changed over the centuries. It's a great resource for all things glass and artificial eyes!

Please do not hesitate to ask us your glass-related questions in the future!





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