Stock Plastic Eyes Replace Stock Glass Eyes
The sale of stock glass eyes was another market that flourished
for the five-to-seven German families of glass eye makers
in North America.
Especially, if you consider 1 in every 500 people in the
USA required an artificial eye, and the glass eye (if it
didn't break) would have to be replaced every one to two
years, because, 'tears' and 'secretions' would roughen and
discolor the front surface of the glass.
The stock glass eyes were sold to those
who could not afford a custom fitted glass eye. They
were also fitted to younger children whose parents preferred
they wore the glass stock eyes, because of expected breakage,
and/or rapid tissue change (normal growth) within the cavity
that required frequent replacements. And, for patients
in remote areas that preferred not to travel to the big cities
they provided a mail order service, where
they would have the wearer do their own selecting and fitting
from a sample box of two to four dozen. Besides this
source of disbursement, they also sold trays of glass eyes
to Oculists, Optometrists, Opticians and even jewelry stores.
(These individuals were called 'glass eye fitters.')
When the public sought the plastic eye instead of glass,
they were obligated to incorporate the making of both custom
and stock plastic eyes in order to keep their clientele,
and to attract new case referrals. At first, some of
the glass eye makers embedded glass irises in the plastic
prostheses, in an effort to utilize their glass blowing skills.
However, due to the coefficient of expansion and contraction
a delamination would occur between the two products, giving
the appearance of a clouded cornea.
The increase in demand for the plastic artificial eye, and
the increased amount of time it took to make meant hiring
individuals who had backgrounds in art and dental laboratory
skills. The dual purpose was to assist them in building
up an adequate supply of stock plastic eyes to meet their
own patient demand, while continuing their wholesale ancillary
provider market venture. Their method of manufacture
was duplication of selected preformed glass eye shapes.