The artificial eye

The human eye was already considered a symbol of life in ancient Egypt. The Pharaohs believed that the dead man’s soul returned to it’s body. Therefore, Egyptian priests attempted to replace the eyes of the deceased, which had been removed beforehand, with eyes made of wax, plaster, or valuable stones.

Ambroise Pare, 1510–1590 [1], was the first person to describe artificial eyes in every detail. During his lifetime, painted and enamelled prostheses made of gold, silver, and porcelain were common.

Around 1820 [2], Hazard-Mirault reported that prostheses made of glass were favoured. Those prostheses had a drawback, though. The white coloured glass, dyed with lead oxide,was extremely soft and quickly caused the prostheses to become rough, leading to subsequent irritation of the conjunctiva.

Even so, these artificial eyes were very desirable throughout Europe, even though they cost the enormous sum of 20 Louis d’Or.

[[1]] Paré A. (1575), Les Oevres 23, Buon, Paris
[[2]] Hazard-Mirault (1818), Traité pratique de l’oeil artificial, Duponcet, Paris