Prosthetic Contact Lenses [Part 1]

I am publishing this article to try and let others know what is available. I don’t like to think that there are people like me who cannot find this information from practitioners in their country.

I was born with a squint in my right eye.

When I was three my brother, who was nine, made a bow and arrow. He shot it at me and it went into my right eye. We lived in a village where there was only a maternity hospital so I went to a hospital 120 miles away by taxi. Considering that was decades ago, they did quite a good job patching up the eye.   However, it is clear from the image below that it was very disfiguring, especially since my eyes are such a light colour – and the shot-at eye was the one that ‘wandered.’

This disfigurement caused me to develop a version of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) when I became a teenager. I avoided social situations and had a ludicrously long fringe (‘pony’).  I know that BDD normally occurs in people who imagine they have a defect but my reaction to an actual defect was extreme and in line with BDD behaviour.

Because my eyes are such a light colour, I know from photos exactly how I looked.

This was not helped by members of my own family who told me I was not pretty and should not wear makeup or feminine clothes. I grew up with lots of verbal and mental abuse but let’s not get sidetracked right now.

I also felt bad because I knew that millions of people have much worse facial disfigurements. But people everywhere communicate with their eyes and it is not the same if you have an ugly nose, stick-out ears, bad teeth or skin, etc, but the eyes are different. People do find bung eyes very disconcerting.

I would often go to my optician and ask about any breakthroughs for people with eyes like mine but was offered nothing as of 2005.

You might be thinking, why did I not just wear fashion lenses? Good question, but I am not sure such things were available at that point but they do not have a pupil so the wearer can still see out!

In 2006 I went to live in the Maldives where, strangely, I discovered that it was possible to get custom-made prosthetic lenses:

This man has very light-coloured eyes and I think the effect is fantastic.

I was amazed that this was not known about by my local eye people.

I ordered a lens and it came completely painted over. As I still had a lot of sight in the right eye, the pupil would try and expand thinking it was night-time whilst my left eye would just stay the same. The resulting sensation was untenable.

The company then made a lens with the pupil part left clear:

This is quite a good result except that the right eye pupil is kind-of see-through. Somewhat oddly, the company was never able to reproduce a lens coloured as seen above left again.

The company then sent me more painted lenses, including a pupil, which bore less and less resemblance to my eye colour with each try:


The company I was talking to is Cantor & Nissel and before I go any further, let me make it very clear that this is not a diatribe against them and the final, final result (in part 2) really was marvellous.

Who would walk around with these last three lenses – especially the last one?  It might be okay if you are Marilyn Manson.  How could anyone from the lens company think that any of these lenses matched me?

Then I suggested getting a lens with just a black pupil. This is what the company sent me:

At least now I had two pupils but the painted one was too big. The company said it had to be that size to blot out the real pupil which would naturally enlarge thinking it was night-time! From the photo above it is clear that the pupil did not enlarge. I also said to the company that if the painted pupil was normal/average size, it would have even less of an effect on the real, distorted pupil.

This large pupil was 5mm so the company, and at my request, they then made one at 3.5 mm.  Below we can see the two eyes are now quite alike as the pupils are the same size:

Here the real pupil is literally in the background and attention is now drawn to the painted right pupil (looking left at this photo).

The painted pupil is a bit blacker because it is on the front of the eye, whereas a real pupil is at the back of the eye.  But, the vast majority of the time, I have two centred pupils about the same size and people naturally focus on my ‘front’ rather than ‘back’ pupil. My life changed from that day, which is not an exaggeration.

There is a further great development brought to me by Cantor & Nissel, which is the subject of Part 2 (coming soon).

Here are some links that are very helpful if you would like to learn more about prosthetic lenses:


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