Health Team

Man's wish for prosthetic eye comes true

Posted May 24, 2011
Updated May 26, 2011

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— Most eye injuries don't result in the loss of the eye, but when they do, a prosthetic or false eye is an option. Those with false eyes need to replace them every few years, and the cost can be beyond their means.

Ryan Ange knows about the cost. He lost his left eye in a BB gun accident 19 years ago at the age of 13.

A prosthetic costing up to $3,000 was beyond his family's means, but a company made it for him free of charge. After 13 years, he came up with the money for a replacement, but it wasn't a good fit or match to his natural eye.

Again, the money was a problem, so he sent out a plea for help through an organization called “Wish Upon a Hero.”

Kim DaHill, a wish ambassador in Boston, began looking for a prosthetic eye businesses willing to donate its services, and Carolina Eye Prosthetics in Burlington stepped forward.

Ryan's parents recognized the company's name.

“They actually told me that they were the ones that gave me my first eye, which was the best one,” Ange said.

prosthetic eye Man's wish for prosthetic eye comes true

Ocularist Anna Jefferson says her family's business normally charges about $2,500 for the work.

“We’ve had people who've had hard times the last couple of years, so we've been very flexible on the price,” she said.

The prosthetic is made of a hard plastic acrylic and takes hours of detailed painting, trying to match the color of the natural eye, complete with tiny blood vessels.

Ange's story to Wish Upon A Hero included his graduation with a master's degree in English this month. He plans to teach, but he didn't want students distracted by a mismatched eye.

“It's like you want to look as normal as possible, to put them at their ease and, of course, myself also,” he said.

With one eye, Ange has less peripheral vision and less depth perception, but he's able to safely drive and do most other things. He wears non-prescription glasses in order to protect his good eye.


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  • wdprice3 May 26, 2011

    congrats on keeping your eye focused on your dreams!

  • Con Amor brings luv and laughter May 25, 2011

    Does insurance NOT cover prostetic eyes???? If they dont, then SHAME SHAME SHAME on them!!!!

  • Con Amor brings luv and laughter May 25, 2011

    Congrats to him on his new eye and a double THUMBS UP, to the ones who gave it to him!!! I hope to NEVER need their services, but in the event that I did, then I know I would go to them because they are obviously a business that truly cares!

  • psycho May 25, 2011

    They're getting there on artificial eyes, though - there was a story on WRAL some months back about a tiny implantable camera that feeds directly into the optic nerve, kind of the same way a cochlear implant works for hearing-impaired folks. The vision isn't like ours and the brain has the learn how to decipher the signal, but apparently they've had at least some success restoring partial vision - which is absolutely amazing!

  • etsisk May 24, 2011

    I can't imagine a time when they can transplant an eye - it's different from other organs in that the eye needs to be attached to the optic nerve to work and such attachment is beyond our abilities.

    On the plus side, though, they're reattaching faces and making the neural connections necessary for the facial muscles to work, so maybe one day... :)

  • fayncmike May 24, 2011

    I'll be more impressed when they can transplant eyes just as they do hearts and other organs.