Deepankar Bhowmik’s vision was fine. But when the six-year-old’s father spotted a light-like glow inside his eye, he rushed him to the hospital, where a scan revealed a tumour inside the eyeball. The student of Class I had to have the whole eye removed, to prevent any spread to his undamaged eye.
Deepankar’s sightless socket would have previously been filled with an off-the-shelf, ready-made eye. But now, he has a more lifelike option that provides greater comfort. Customised ocular prostheses made from medical-grade acrylics are now available in the city.
The Himalaya Opticals centre near Lalbazar has recently launched the Himalaya Ocular Prosthesis Centre. Sized to fit the socket of each individual wearer, each tiny piece is painted to resemble the functional eye. If properly fitted, it will even move in unison with the ‘seeing’ eye. “If the size is right, the prosthesis can be worn to bed as well,” explains Ajay Kumar Bhootra, the ocularist modelling each unit.
Weighing barely a few grams, the eye is held in place by the lids alone. “Because it is so light, chances of lower-lid sagging is reduced,” adds Bhootra. But the clearest advantage, as reported by his patients, is the psychological impact of having a replacement eye that is close to reality. The prosthesis is best fitted within four weeks of losing the real eye.
In eastern India, opticians claim, this is the first such service. The only drawback is the price — an ‘eye’, with a life span of around three years, costs up to Rs 3,000, while a readymade one comes as cheap as Rs 100. Re-polishing after around six months is recommended.
Himalaya Opticals is producing the devices in its Calcutta laboratory. After fitting around 40 patients free of cost during a trial period, they have now worked with around 25 professional cases, and have not logged any complaints till date. “The eye socket could have so many different shapes that readymade eyes cannot be fully effective,” concludes Bhootra.