Giving Devyn Her Baby Blues Back

Giving Devyn Her Baby Blues Back

CREATED Dec 2, 2013

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Nearly a million children a year injure their eyes and half of those injuries happen in the home. Scissors, running with pencils, throwing rocks, sharp corners, and power tools are all to blame. The younger a child is fitted with a new eye the better.

Beautiful Devyn Santiago was fitted with a prosthetic eye at the age of just eight months old after she injured her eye with a toy.

"She picked up a little army man and went to put it in her mouth and the gun went right into her eye," Jessica Santiago, Devyn's mother, told Ivanhoe.

Like an artist, Ocularist Peter Gutierrez uses oil paint to create the iris on the acrylic shell.

"Everything is done by hand. So, she sat right in front of me, I painted everything by hand," Peter Gutierrez, SNG Labs-SNG Prosthetic Eye Institute, told Ivanhoe.

"He is always taking pictures of her eye trying to get the exact eye color so they do match because it is a beautiful blue," Jessica said.

If Devyn had lost her entire eye, she would have been fitted with a new, specially patented magnetic prosthetic eye.

"The optical muscles are attached to it and then there is a metal piece that goes on it and a magnet to the prosthetic eye, which gives it better movement," Gutierrez said.

Giving little one's like Devyn their baby blues back.

"People that do know what happened look at her and they have to ask, ‘which eye is it?'" Jessica said.

As Devyn grows she will need a new custom prosthetic eye fabricated one to two times a year. Each prosthetic cost around $3,000 and most of the time insurance will cover it with medical necessity.


BACKGROUND: Artificial or prosthetic eyes are designed to enhance the appearance of a patient who has had the unfortunate loss of an eye. A "fake eye" includes a white outer shell and a painted iris and pupil to match the other eye. An ocularist is a doctor who custom makes the artificial eye specific to the patient. In common cases, eyes are removed due to an injury, glaucoma, eye tumors or an infection inside the eye. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/prosthetic-eye-ocular-prosthesis)

MAGNETIC ATTRACTION: A new method for prosthetic eyes is being tested to allow patients to have movement of an artificial eye. The new system contains a screw that is placed in the implant and is covered by socket tissue. Magnets are placed behind the prosthetic and covered with an acrylic material that is used to make the prosthetic. An ocularist determines how many magnets a patient needs and will fit them accordingly to the patient. Continuous care is needed keep the prosthetic healthy and functioning. This will also prevent complications within the socket. (Source: http://www.prostheticeye.com/magnetic_attraction.html)

CHILDREN WEARING PROSTHETIC EYES: When children are battling an eye disease or if they have been involved in an accident that caused them to lose an eye, they find it challenging to trust doctors and nurses. The constant peering, poking and solutions in the eye socket is something that nobody wants to go through, especially kids. An artificial eye is very easy to put in and take out. When kids have prosthetic eyes, they feel comfortable living a normal life and they no longer have to put up with the embarrassment that comes along with the loss. Kids will feel more confident and reassured that they can continue on with two eyes, instead of one. (Source: http://artificialeyes.net/adjusting-to-eye-loss-mind-map/accepting-your-eye/


Peter Gutierrez, Ocularist at SNG Labs-SNG Prosthetic Eye Institute, talks about prosthetic eyes for children.

When did you first see Devyn and what happened?  

Mr. Gutierrez: Devyn was about 8 months of age, and she had sustained an injury to her left eye with a toy; when she came in she had lost vision in that eye. So what we did is we started fitting her first with clear conformer, to get the eye used to having something in the socket. After a couple of sessions of slowly expanding the socket, she was then ready to fit for a scleral shell, where we take an impression of the blind damaged eye to get an exact fit.  Everything is done by hand, so she sat right in front of me, painted everything by hand, between myself and the entire team, we made the scleral shell.  It has full movement, full range of motion, and what we try to do is disguise it so that no one is able to tell that she is wearing a shell.  

Is she one of your youngest patients?  

Mr. Gutierrez: One of the younger patients, yes.

And how long have you been actually doing, creating eyes for young patients? 

Mr. Gutierrez: Ah, well since we've been here.  It's been many years, over 8 years now easily.

Are they difficult to work with?  

Mr. Gutierrez: Some are. Some patients are difficult; some patients once they become accustomed to us, then it's easier to work. 

Since she is so young, you have to continue to make new eyes for her. How often do you do that?

Mr. Gutierrez: Often. According to the anatomical changes, we could see her every 3 months to make adjustments; twice a year perhaps if needed, we make a new shell for them.

And you said she sits in front of you as you make the eye, like a portrait painter?

Mr. Gutierrez: Exactly, so she will sit right across my desk and will sit there and will paint with thin brushes on a small 13 mm disk and just paint the iris color. 

And how has she been as a patient?  She is not even 3.   

Mr. Gutierrez: She is ideal. She is better than most adults. 

So it's better if they are fitted right after it happens? 

Mr. Gutierrez: Correct.

There was a girl on the news this morning, she got shot by a BB gun by her father and lost her eye.  She is at Broward Health North. Is that common?

Mr. Gutierrez: We have tons of BB gun accidents.  Bone and arrow accidents, paper clips, throwing rocks, baseball, golf, corners of counters, slips and falls, you name it.  Any possible way you think you can receive trauma to the eye, we see it.

What about accidents with scissors? 

Mr. Gutierrez: Scissors, pencils, fishing hooks, yes.  

It's just amazing how quickly you can lose an eye, right?  

Mr. Gutierrez: Absolutely. 


Scott Garonzik
The Prosthetic Eye Institute