Artificial Eyes

Artificial Eyes

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Ocular prostheses, more commonly known as artificial eyes, are used to replace the natural eye due to disease or accident. Historically preostetic eyes have been made from a variety of materials. Clay artificial eyes decorated with gold were known to have been used by Egyptians and Romans.
Hollow glass eyes blown from thin tubes of glass were first developed in the early nineteenth century. Glass eyes were used until WW II interfered with their importation from Germany.
Because the war interferred with the importation of glass eyes, and extreme temperatures caused the fragile eyes to shatter, there was incentive to develop a new type of artificial eye. Several groups of scientists in the United States and abroad developed acrylic artificial eyes, which today are the type most often used. This box contains fifty glass eyes of various sizes, shapes, and shades of blue, brown, and hazel.
Currently not on view
Object Name
artificial eyes
eyes, artificial, set
Physical Description
glass (eyes material)
wood (case material)
overall: 1 1/8 in x 13 5/16 in x 6 5/8 in; 2.8575 cm x 33.8455 cm x 16.8275 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Artifact Walls exhibit
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object