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Mosaic is published by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health, and dedicated to exploring the science of life. The URL is Read More »


Finally, Drummond had everything he’d ever dreamed of. He’d come a long way since he was a little boy, upset at his failure to get into the grammar school. That had been a great disappointment to his mother, and to his father, who was an engineer at a pharmaceutical company. His dad had never showed much interest in him as a child. He didn’t play with him and when he was naughty, he’d put him over the back of a chair and wallop him. That’s just the way men were in those days. Your father was feared and respected. Dads were dads.

Bad Gastein in the Austrian Alps. It’s 10 am on a Wednesday in early March, cold and snowy – but not in the entrance to the main gallery of what was once a gold mine. Togged out in swimming trunks, flip-flops and a bath robe, I have just squeezed into one of the carriages of a narrow-gauge railway that’s about to carry me 2 km into the heart of the Radhausberg mountain.

A  small, highly skilled team at Moorfields Eye Hospital transform the lives of people who have lost their eyes to accidents and disease. Each year, they work with their clients to create around 1,400 customized, detailed prosthetics, many of which replace eyes.

Modern prosthetic eyes are far removed from the old misconceptions about ‘glass eyes’, combining modern materials, craftsmanship and artistry in an entirely unique way. In this film, ocularist David Carpenter talks us through the entire process of how a single prosthetic eye is made.

CC-BY: Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images

“Take your ear off for me, please,” Rosie Seelaus says to Randy James, who is sitting on a black exam chair in a special room designed for viewing colours in the Craniofacial Center on the Near West Side of Chicago.

He reaches up and detaches his right ear, which she created for him out of silicone seven years before. The ear is shabby, stained from skin oil and mottled by daily use. Viewed under various lights in the neutral, grey-walled room – daylight, incandescent, fluorescent – it remains a pasty beige.

I’m on the back seat of the lower deck of a number 37 bus, outside the red-brick and Portland stone clock tower of Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton, south London.  Although I know exactly where I am, I feel lost. I no longer know whether to trust what my eyes are telling me.

I’ve just been told by a leading vision scientist that I have no real depth perception. 

In other words, I have never seen in three dimensions the way most people do.

Haskell Karp was 37 when he suffered his first heart attack, and over the next ten years he suffered a variety of related problems. By 1969 even the slightest effort, like combing his hair or brushing his teeth, would bring on chest pain or extreme shortness of breath.