In a world of mass production and high technology, an ocularist in Nottingham, United Kingdom, has inspired followers around the world with his high-touch approach to hand-crafting prosthetic eyes as portrayed in a couple of YouTube videos.
Dr John Pacey-Lowrie pioneered technical advances in the technique whilst demonstrating the importance of close relationships to his patients, according to one of the short films, a documentary about his work.
“These patients that you have for a long time become part of your family, in a way,” he says in The Ocularist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNUo76bjmpY). “There will be professionals who see this short film and think that might be less than ethically correct, but I disagree.”
The documentary by Philip Formby has been viewed over 7,900 times on YouTube. An instructional video featuring Dr Pacey-Lowrie in turn spawned another video, this one seen more than 1 million times, about an Australian oilrig worker inspired by his daughter’s microphthalmia to become Dr Pacey-Lowrie's apprentice.
Born with microphthalmia himself, Dr Pacey-Lowrie left school at 16 years of age and learned how to make artificial eyes from the Artificial Eye Service because he wanted to help people.
Though he was grateful for the technical skills he acquired, he did not like the “two-tier” system in which the service separated the prostheses designers and painters. “For me, the painting and manufacturing: that’s the skill, that’s the art, that’s fun," he says. “That's the nice thing at the end; you made that, you've created that for the patient and you see the smile on their face.”