Meet the family behind prosthetic eyeballs

Ever wonder where prosthetic eyes come from? Some pharmaceutical giant? A loud, whirring assembly line in a far-flung country? Try a few small families, who keep their craft close to their heart…and their bloodlines.

Universities don’t offer course work in ocularistry, with its odd blend of art and science. The only real way to learn the trade is to apprentice yourself to another ocularist, if you can find one willing to train you. Most opt to keep their secrets within their families.

"I equate it to being a blacksmith in the old days," ocularist David Gougelmann says. "Children followed in the footsteps of the father."

But like all families, the ties that bind can also eventually snap:

"Most families in the field of ocularistry have some kind of conflict," Gougelmann says. The son of a father who worked until he was 78 — "I don’t know many ocularists who’ve ever retired" — he chalks it up to a tension that exists in family businesses of all kinds.

"There’s this difficulty letting go," Gougelmann says. "You brought somebody into the business. At what point do you treat him as a peer? At what point do you relinquish the reins?"

Read more in our latest Column One feature.

Photos: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

  1. knutarildhareide reblogged this from latimes
  2. seersken reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  3. georgiadanger reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  4. pyrathepyro reblogged this from rainbow-hammock
  5. rainbow-hammock reblogged this from howstuffworks
  6. apo-mind reblogged this from bioengine
  7. meong reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  8. turdbaths reblogged this from thenearsightedmonkey
  9. jmcniel reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  10. sommerbottoms reblogged this from adrianchin
  11. adrianchin reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  12. thelastmanipulation reblogged this from assortedunicorn
  13. warehouseartifacts reblogged this from vwcarmats
  14. nightsorcerer reblogged this from vwcarmats
  15. vwcarmats reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  16. breakdownopendoors reblogged this from fearlessguster
  17. re-anima reblogged this from llieo
  18. rocksfalleveryonedies reblogged this from cigaretteburnslikefairylights
  19. f101threed reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  20. wynneisms reblogged this from fancybidet
  21. oryzivora reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  22. eskapisme reblogged this from we-are-star-stuff
  23. ohthescience reblogged this from k-fresha and added:
    Ever wonder where prosthetic eyes come from? Some pharmaceutical giant? A loud, whirring assembly line in a far-flung...
  24. afunbusnameddesire reblogged this from comicauthors
  25. heychessikuh reblogged this from nowsaynothingelse
  26. nowsaynothingelse reblogged this from wnycradiolab
  27. lugworms reblogged this from nixnaught
  28. nixnaught reblogged this from shakn-n-stird
  29. shakn-n-stird reblogged this from wnycradiolab