Prosthetic eye-making is a unique and challenging skill.
Also known as glass eyes, they are used to hide the scars or tissues formed after an eye is surgically removed.
Every eye is made to measure and is hand-painted so it looks and feels as natural as possible.
For Jenny Geelen and her brother, Paul, crafting artificial eyes is a family business and lifelong mission.
Although prosthetic eyes cannot bring a person’s sight back, it can help patients in other ways. Jenny Geelen explains that people often feel discriminated against after having an eye removed.
“Just getting by in normal life as well as finding jobs and employment, it can be very hard for them too, so they get a bit ostracized from society,” says Geelen.
Prosthetic eyes can therefore help people regain their confidence and live as they did before they had their eye removed.
However, due to the amount of skill required to make one, artificial eyes are not accessible to everyone.
In Australia, where Jenny and Paul Geelen are based, there are only 12 ocularists.
This is why Jenny Geelen travels to train oculists in developing countries.
“It’s a four-year traineeship, you need to work under a trained ocularist for four years before you can be qualified”, she explains.
She has trained Timor Leste’s first ocularist and now aims to travel to Rwanda, Papua New Guinea and Nepal.
The siblings also have created a blog where they share information to help patients who are still adapting to their new eye.