Even in ancient times, the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans all made artificial eyes for statues, figurines, mummies, masks, dolls and toy animals using precious and semi-precious stones, ivory, white feldspar, glass, porcelain and metal alloys.

2,000 years ago, “fabri ocularii statuarum” were already highly regarded in Rome. Even Aristotle (384-322 BC) mentioned puppets with moving eyes. “Presentation eyes”, painted eyes made of leather which were worn on the eyelids and secured to the head with a spring wire, also existed during the Middle Ages. There were also “inlay eyes”, made of gold or silver, with an iris painted in enamel colours.

The first glass eyes were probably made in Venice, before Paris became the centre of artificial eye manufacturing in the 17th century. In 1860, Lauscha in Germany took over as the hub of artificial eye manufacturing. The breakthrough was made by F. AD. Müller, with his innovative use of cryolite glass. Unlike the French models made of lead glass, the eyes produced in Lauscha were far better tolerated by the human body. These products became world-famous after appearing in exhibitions across the globe and even today the prostheses are still manufactured as they were 150 years ago.

Meanwhile, the production of plastic artificial eyes has spread across the world. Plastic eyes, however, do not have nearly as smooth a surface and do not look as natural as glass eyes. It also takes up to three days to modify plastic prostheses, whereas a glass eye is blown in one session lasting about 2 hours. Patients from both Germany and abroad swear that once you have worn a glass eye, you will never go back.