Meet Mr. Haas, He Makes Eyes

Here’s a story of an ocularist who makes prosthetic eyes from glass. Obviously here’s a necessary and important service, but we find it surprising that this seems something of a dying art. [Mr. Haas] lives in the UK but notes that most glass eye makers have been German, and tend to pass the trade down to their children. With that father-to-son daughter transfer of knowledge becoming less common these days we wonder just how many people know how to do this any longer.

But don’t despair, it’s not that there won’t be a source for ocular prosthesis, as acrylic eyes are quite common. But what we see in the video after the break is breathtaking and we hate to see the knowledge and experience lost the way vacuum tube manufacture and even common blacksmithing have.

[vimeo w=470]

[via Engadget]

30 thoughts on “Meet Mr. Haas, He Makes Eyes

  1. I’d also like to note that while there are acrylic options, those don’t work for everyone. A family member of mine was born with one deformed eye and is allergic to acrylic. Others have experienced issues making acrylic ocular prosthesis not an option. It’s too bad there are only a few makers of these anymore – and the true masters of this art are few and far between (I’m not sure there are any more – whose eyes are custom and indistinguishable).

  2. I actually taught myself to form glass after watching that vacuum tube video you posted a while back. I still watch it every once in a while.

    Judging from my experience learning with glass, it should only take a couple weeks to get the basic technique and then the rest is just practicing until you’re good at it.

  3. I’m a glassblower that makes eyes as well but I make mine out of borosilicate (pyrex) and this guy uses softglass. I can;t believe he is not wearing the correct eyeware as working glass in a torch will give you blind spots like welding.
    I put my eyeballs on sculptures, pipes, jewelry and other functional art instead of putting them on real people.
    The information is still being passed on and in the last 10 – 20 years more techniques have been discovered and upgraded then any other time in history as a direct result of pipe makers blowing glass. is a great online resource for glassblowing if any one is interested. I make my eyes using a different technique that allows so much more detail to be put in the iris. He may be the last person making eyes for people there but I bet that there are dozens of lampworkers in the uk making eyes for there own admiration of an eyeball.
    My email is if anyone wants any glass eyeballs for their projects. I can make them tiny tiny to about the size of a baseball, hollow or solid.

  4. Glass *CAN* shatter but pyrex glass is very, very strong. In fact, it can take a huge compression force before breaking. Something on the order or 40 MPa (6000 psi) or more. Far, far, far more than your soft tissues could take. Also – surface defects are what cause glass to become weak and ultimately fail. I would imagine that anything in your eye socket would be VERY VERY smooth (and well protected from damage).

    Adult toys are sometimes made out of glass because they are non porous, easy to clean and chemically inert. As long as you avoid throwing them at walls or putting them in blenders, they hold up very, very well. Of course, silicone toys are basically rubbery (silicone) glass chemically and silicone rubber obviously can’t have sharp edges or shatter so those are also good alternatives for adult toys. But honestly, the only thing that is going to cause a glass eye to shatter would be a very, very large impact. Like being hit in the eye by a very fast moving object. Which would hurt a real eye as much, if not more.

    So yes, it *could* be an issue in theory but in practice – it is really a non issue. But it is still amusing when people’s first reaction is to think *gasp* what if it shatters?!?! If it does, that is the least of your worries.

  5. Glasswork isn’t really a dying art. If anything, it is becoming more popular over time.

    The true name for what he is doing (working glass with a torch) is lampworking as it was originally done over an open flame lamp.

    Nowadays you can get starter kits for 50-100$. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of hobbiest lampworkers (most who make beads and marbles). It is almost shocking to see how common lampworking is as a hobby. Most of us could do an eye no problem, although getting something realistic is another story.

  6. Lampworking and glassblowing used to be incredibly secretive back when glass was first discovered. Making something clear and shiny was a big deal and people would be killed to keep the methods secret.

    Nowadays glass culture is basically synonymous with smoking pot since pipes are one of the main “shapes” you can make in glass. As one might imagine everyone has become a lot more chill about sharing.

  7. You can only imagine what’s going on inside my head since I read this article -after- watching that little animation about spherical objects Ray William Johnson posted on Youtube.
    [Spoiler Alert]
    You-you-you ain’t seen my eye-balls.

  8. Ocularists switched to acrylic because it’s much more affordable to work with and you can make them easily from molds, so they are really fitted for the patient.
    Not every patient’s condition requires a full spherical “glass eye”. Lot’s of people only require a thick lens that copy the appearance of the remaining eye, just to cover a damaged eye (my case actually).

    Anyway, they do give a “new face” to people and for that I’m really grateful!

  9. My dad has had a glass eye for the last 40 years and has never had one break. There’s almost no chance of one breaking while it’s in the socket (maybe getting shot? which is how the real one met its match) and his eye has fallen out a few times onto various surfaces without shattering.

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