OCULARIST - DEFINITION
An Ocularist is a trained professional who fits and manufactures Custom Designed Ocular Prostheses (artificial eyes). An Ocularist is also qualified to fit Scleral or Haptic Shells (an artificial eye shell which fits over a blinded eye). The Ocularist's domain is the eye socket and blinded Phthysical eyes.
SCOPE OF PRACTICE
The Profession of Ocularistry assists patients to become more functional and to restore the appearance of the patient and, where necessary, collaborates with Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Plastic Reconstructive Surgeons, Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
The Ocularist examines and assesses the globe, socket and related structures to facilitate the manufacture and fitting of an appropriate, comfortable and safe Prosthesis or Prostheses and or appliance or appliances to restore the dignity, appearance and functionality of the patient. This includes the eye socket, blinded eye, phthysical eye and the surroundings.
Ocularists promote orbital and ocular health by rehabilitating the socket/orbit through manufacturing, fitting and maintaining of Ocular Prostheses and Scleral/Haptic Shells for those who have had an eye or eyes enucleated, eviscerated, exenterated and those with total or partial vision loss and with an unsightly, damaged and or disfigured eye known as a phthysical blinded eye.
THE OCULARISTS ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
OASA represents the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) recognised Professional Body which coordinates all designated members in the field of Ocularistry.
The Ocularists aim is, through an eye prosthesis, not only to restore lost orbital and ocular contours and function, but also to buoy the spirit of the patient.
OASA aims to sustain and further develop the working relationship with all stakeholders, including Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and Maxilo-Facial Surgeons in order to achieve the best possible treatment and holistic rehabilitation of patients.
The Ocularists Association of Southern Africa has appointed Mr Harry Rosen as Ombudsman. He is available to designated Ocularists and patients in order to maintain an open and honest work ethic in Ocularistry.
Polishing of your Ocular Prosthesis on an annual basis will extend the life of the material of your Prosthesis.
An Ocular Prosthesis needs replacing every -five years as the material deteriorates and therefore has a limited lifespan. If not replaced, this could lead to recurring discharge from the socket and irritation to the socket.
If the shape of your socket changes due to ageing or damage, a new prosthesis is often appropriate for better comfort and cosmesis. Bear in mind, that when fitting a child, a new Prosthesis is required at regular intervals during the growing years so that the socket and Prosthesis keep pace with the changes occurring in the facial bone structure.
It is very important to replace your Prosthesis with socket changes as damage to your eyelids and socket may occur if the Prosthesis fit is not aligned to that of the socket.
While there are many various types of implants fitted surgically by the Ophthalmologist, the ocularist is trained to manufacture the correct Prosthesis irrespective of implant type.
An Ocular Prosthesis is often called a 'glass eye'. There are still one or two companies worldwide that still blow glass Ocular Prostheses. The world trend since the Second World War is the use of Methyl Methacrylate acrylic. All registered members of the Ocularists Association of Southern Africa use Methyl Methacrylate to manufacture Ocular Prostheses.
In order to achieve the best results, one should exercise patience with fittings and the manufacture processes as these are very time consuming. The fitting period may extend over a few months to ensure that the Ocular Prosthesis is going to be accurately and symmetrically reproduced to resemble your remaining eye.
A custom-designed Ocular Prosthesis begins with an impression moulded shape, that corresponds with the socket shape in order to achieve the best comfort, movement and lid shaping.
The Stock Prosthesis is not handmade for an individual patient and is adjusted from a fitting set by the Ocularist for a good cosmetic result.
The Ocular Prosthesis falls under the non-surgical or external appliance section of your medical aid fund. Most Ocularists can assist you in getting the proper authorisation for the manufacture and fitting of your Ocular Prosthesis.
Ocular Prosthesis wearers, should always take note of package inserts on the medication used with their eye prosthesis, as some eye medications are contra-indicated for hard/gas-permeable contact lenses. Please check your medication insert for warnings about hard contact lenses. This would be a contraindication for use with your Ocular Prosthesis. Ask your doctor to prescribe an alternate medication which will not affect your Ocular Prosthesis.
All Ocularists registered with the Ocularists Association of Southern Africa
are Affiliate members of the South African Optometric Association.