News: Injured Iraqi gets help to lead a normal life
A dentist with the 502nd Dental Company helped an injured Iraqi man lead a more normal life by manufacturing a prosthetic eye and then implanting it at the Air Force Theater Hospital on Dec. 22.
Col. Arthur Bryant, the OIC of the main Anaconda dental clinic as well as a prosthetics expert, said he plans to manufacture two more acrylic resin ocular implants during the month of January.
"I think it's important to try to make people feel whole again," Bryant said. "By providing an artificial eye you're making them feel more whole, which I think is important and esteem-building."
The man who received the implant was injured by a suicide bomber while standing in line to apply for the Iraqi police force. Though he chose to remain unidentified, he expressed gratitude to Bryant and the rest of the U.S. forces who treated him after he was injured.
"I feel grateful, of course, that the Americans took care of me," he said through the assistance of a translator.
Bryant, a boarded prosthodontist who has been recognized by the surgeon general of the Army, is part of a long history the Army has had with prosthetic eyes. The method of making an artificial eye was actually developed by the Army during World War 2 to replace old-fashioned glass eyes, which were prone to breaking and required frequent replacement.
The modern process for replacing a lost eye with a prosthetic eye usually begins shortly after the injury, when medical responders insert a plastic conformer to maintain the shape of the eye socket. Doctors later take an impression of the socket with a silicon-based material and use the impression to make a custom mold for the patient's prosthetic eye. Once the doctor finishes the acrylic resin eye piece, he will add small black buttons that resemble pupils and paint each iris by hand.
Bryant brought the materials to make the eyes with him from Fort Bliss, Texas when he was assigned to the 502nd for deployment. He has since trained two Soldiers in the 502nd to fabricate the eyes so the work can continue after he has redeployed.
Lt. Col. Dianne Pannes, commander of the 502nd Dental Co., said Bryant deserves all the credit.
"It's above and beyond the call of duty. He's exceptionally skilled and artistic and we're lucky to have him."
She added, "I'm very proud and very glad that we could provide such a life-changing service to another human being."