Startup (Oculus Prosthetics)
Hi there, my name is Dwayne Collins and I am a father of two beautiful children, Liberty who is the eldest and who is almost four and Caius is the youngest at 18 months.
My daughter Liberty was born with a rare condition called Microphthalmia in both eyes but more severly in the right side.
Micropthalmia is a devolopmental disorder of the eye in which one or both eyes are abnormally small and have anatomic malformations. She also has Chorioretinal Colobomas in both eyes. Colobomas are a hole in one of the structures of the eye, such as the iris, retina, choroid, or optic disc. Liberty had her first conformer put in her Right Microphthalmic eye from the age of 10 weeks old and this was to help her socket grow evenly as she grew, which then progressed to a painted shell a few months later we had an amazing Ocularist based in Brisbane, who started my interest in the profession. As we are New Zealanders and Liberty had a few medical issues we moved back to New Zealand when she was 11 months. This then meant we had to find a new Ocularist to make her eyes for her. As it turns out we ended up using two who were in our experience absolutely terrible. The first refused to listen to us as parents even though we had experience and were not new to the process, he was extremely arrogant to the point he tried to tell us our daughters eyes weren't blue!!!! The second was a lovely man but during the molding process he put too much product in the socket which caused the substance to wrap around her eye and created suction and grabed at the small eye ball she has in her socket....Liberty ended up in so much pain she almost passed out.
This for us as young parents having to see her go through this and inflict this upon her was the worst thing my wife and I have been through. We drove the 4 hours home after our final appointment which the Ocularist left us with an eye that didn't look straight, made her eye run and he was happy for her to be like that for the next 2 years.... as in NZ the goventment pays for a replacement every 2 years.
My wife and Liberty were crying and I myself was extremely angry and frustrated at the unprofessionalism in New Zealand so I turned this anger and frustration into motivation.
Once we arrived home I got straight onto the computer and started ordering the basic machines, paint supplies and materials that I would need to make her an eye myself. It took me about three months of practice and lots of failures before I had an eye I was happy to have her wear.
One of Liberty's most recent eyes I made her.
I taught myself how to make Liberty's eye by watching YouTube videos of www.johnpaceylowrie.com . John is one of the pioneers of the Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) (acrylic).
I moved my wife and kids back to the Gold Coast in April 2016 which was a big decision for us. I started my own business as a maintenance and design company which is doing well but I know that I am meant to be making prosthetic eyes and helping people with the talent I have.
I could of buried my head in the sand and let things go on as they were with Liberty and allowed her to be with the completly incompetent "professionals" we had been to, but I knew there had to be a better way. From the first time she went to her first appointment to get her first conformer I decided to take a hands on approach and fit them myself. This only made me more curious about the prosthetic eye industry......which brings me to the current day.
I decided to enrol in the Nottingham Trent University Bespoke Ocular Prosthetic 5 day course in England.
I then on the off chance of hearing back from him messaged John Pacey Lowrie and introduced myself and explained my situation and what I had planned to do. We have since had alot of correspondence back and forth via email and he has offered me 4 weeks training at his clinic one on one in Nottingham after i complete the University course. This is very exciting and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and my future business.
All of this however does not come for free......hence why I have created this page. Basically the money will cover the two courses of training which gives me recognised training certificates which only three other people have in Australia and New Zealand, accommodation for my five week stay and then to help me set up my own clinic with the machines and materials i require when I get back to the Gold Coast.
Liberty wearing her first prosthetic eye that I made her.
So, i have been and completed my training in Nottingham. Thanks to all the people who have donated so far your kind donations helped pay for one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. We now have our clinic up and running in the Gold Coast and have had some amazing clients with amazing results. Oculus Prosthetics has now become an industry leader.We almost have all the equipment we require but need two more machines to complete the clinic. Which is the final part of our funding push. We are giving back as much as we can and run a Pro Bono programme for two people each year. As the business grows we will expand this further.
I would like to thank you for any contribution you can give to help make this happen.
well i am back from my training in Nottingham. It was an absolutely amazing experience that is a little hard to put into words. I achieved a lot more than i thought i would and in the last week everything just came into place perfectly. I have ended up developing a awesome relation with John and the team over there.
He gave me a lot of challenges to deal with while i was in the clinic, i was able to see him with clients every day and ask whatever questions i had. My last week there John had arranged a client for me so i could make her an eye start to finish all on my own. This was the last piece in the puzzle for me and really solidified that this is what i am meant to be doing.
Sooo the hard work starts now i am back home. I am 100% committed to getting the clinic up and running. I have a lot of work ahead of me but i will make it happen. In my spare time in Nottingham i was able to sort out suppliers, organise what equipment i need and get the new website underway.
I am currently trying to sort out somewhere to put the clinic and funding for the clinic fitout. This is going to involve some big steps in faith but i have to believe that it will all work out.
I just want to say a big thank you again for all of your support and without you all backing me i would not of been able to get to the U.K to train.
Thank you all for your love, support and kind words on our journey.
Dwayne is posting regular updates on the Facebook page Oculus Prosthetics so if you haven't already check those out.
Love the Collins family..
I have had some exciting things happening behind the scene and i can not wait to be able to show everyone. When i get back from the UK it will be full steam ahead with getting the clinic up and running.
I have been blown away with all the support and generosity you have all shown through donations and kind messages. The money so far has allowed us to pay for my training at Nottingham Trent University. My wife obviously believes in me as she has allowed me to spend our house deposit to pay for further training at John Pacey Lowries clinic for a further four weeks after i finish at University.
We have a long road ahead of us but it has been made so much easier because of YOUR generosity and i can not thank you enough.
Hi to you all, saw your story tonight on the Project, I have a wonderful prosthetic maker in Brisbane the best ever, I have had many made over the years but this is my best. Hope you can start your course, its amazing to watch the artistry of a prosthetic eye being made and takes great skill, we need more people like you wanting to help us feel and look good. Your beautiful daughter is lucky to have you as mum and dad, sending you very best wishes for the future Incidentally I also live on the Coast, regards deb
Hi Dwayne, bit far for us but sounds like a really interesting evening. All the best to you and your family.
Dwayne, would like to follow you as my son wears a prosthetic eye and we are in Brisbane. When our current ocularist retires we have always known we would be heading to Sydney. Great to see you have completed your training and there may be an option for us in QLD rather than having to go south in the future.
Will insurance cover the eyes you make?