Choosing an Ocularist

by J.W. Sibley

Posted on Friday 20th of March 2009

After having an eye removed as a result of injury or disease, it is important to find a quality ocularist to create an ocular prosthesis that closely matches the remaining eye. An ocularist is a highly skilled technician that is trained to create and provide maintenance for artificial eyes. Because there is no school to train ocularists, most learn their trade through an apprenticeship and many quality ocularists are a part of a family business where the skill has been passed down from generation to generation. Experience is the mark of a great ocularist.

Although there is no formal education, ocularists can be certified by the National Examining Board of Ocularists (NEBO). In order to become a Board Certified Ocularist (BCO), ocularists must complete a practical examination and a comprehensive written test. In order to maintain certification, they must take continuing education classes to ensure that they are aware of any technological advances in the process that occur after their certification. While selecting a BCO can instill confidence in the ocularist, there are many other important factors to consider.

Because ocularists are so extensively specialized and every ocular prosthetic is custom made, the choices are limited. There may be only a few BCOs in your state, so many ocularists serve entire regions of the country. Besides accreditation by NEBO, there are other accreditation programs that can indicate that an ocularist provides excellent service. For example, The Compliance Team, a Medicare approved nationally recognized independent accrediting organization offers the Exemplary Provider accreditation. This, and other such accreditations, marks an ocularist who is dedicated to providing the best possible service and products.

Since you only have to see your ocularist about once a year, a lot of patients are able to travel to other cities or even states for their yearly visit. As a result, many people select an ocularist who is able to provide same-day service for the creation of a new eye or the maintenance of an existing eye. Although some practices are unable to make an artificial eye in one day, a quality ocularist will typically only require a one-night-stay for the initial creation and can usually complete maintenance in just one day.

For most patients, another important consideration is insurance acceptance. Without insurance, an artificial eye costs around $3000, depending on the unique circumstances of every patient. Insurance companies sometimes initially deny payment for an artificial eye and it is important to choose an ocularist whose staff is experienced in getting insurance approval.

After all the technical requirements of choosing an ocularist have been handled, as with any other service, it is often wise to seek out other consumers to share their experiences. Many ocularists offer testimonials on their web sites and most will provide you with a list of references that you may personally contact in order to learn about personal experiences with an ocularist. This is a valuable tool for choosing the best fit for you. You will also want to see examples of the ocularist’s previous work. Choosing an ocularist carefully will help to assure years service from your artificial eye.

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