The President of Ocular Concepts, Kevin R. Schou, BCO (Board Certified Ocularist), began in the field of Ocularistry, making artificial eyes, in 1978. After being in the field for more than fifteen years and hearing consistent complaints from patients of having to wait six to eight weeks and wear a patch until their tissue is healed before getting their custom eye, Kevin had the idea that there must be something that could be done to ease these patients back into the life they had before their enucleation (removal of the eye) in a much more timely fashion. The idea to develop Natural-Iris Conformers was an answer for people faced with this disfiguring trauma. The loss of an eye regardless of the cause is a very traumatic event and can be life changing for the patient. Patients described many situations that were emotionally difficult during their recovery time. Such situations included losing time from work and school, socializing with friends and family being seen in public, loss of self esteem, and re-engaging in their normal lives. Patients also described difficulty in looking at mirrors, and gaining acceptance from family members.
Kevin introduced the idea of a Natural-Iris Conformer as a means to bridge the painful emotional time for the patient before their custom prosthesis could be made. A product to be used by the patient as a temporary device until such time that the tissue healed and ready for their custom eye fabricated by a qualified Ocularist seemed so necessary for the patient's rehabilitation and for them to re-engage in their activities with some level of confidence and self esteem.
The design process was lengthy and after seven years Kevin developed a proprietary process of iris imaging that completely resistant to fading or experiencing any color change. Simply using a digital photograph and printing using a digital printer the iris image is not successful with the processing of the plastic manufacturing the conformer. Kevin also altered the traditional post-op clear conformer shape to lift the upper lid into a more natural position during healing as well as restoring some muscle function sooner. Another design feature was to eliminate the common holes found in the clear acrylic conformer. Many are under the assumption the holes make application of drops or ointment easier when in fact they cause more problems as often the surface is rough and creates constant irritation for the lids. Another misconception is the holes allow for drainage when in fact they do not as the mucous discharge is often too thick to drain. Application of drops and/or ointment will give the same effect if applied to the surface of the Natural-Iris Conformer. Medication still makes it way to the anterior portion of the tissues. We have also observed that patients who have worn a Natural-Iris Conformer are even more accepting and excited to be fit with their custom prosthesis than the patients who are wearing the clear conformers.
The positive response from patients as well as their families has truly been overwhelming (see testimonials) and uplifting, furthering the fact that a Natural-Iris Conformer was a necessary component for the rehabilitation for the patient facing enucleation or orbital reconstruction. Patients wearing a Natural-Iris Conformer are able to re-engage at work, school and their daily activities with confidence much more quickly than before. We believe that the Natural-Iris Conformer will some day be the new standard of care for the anophthalmic patient.
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