An Oklahoma artist never let an eye injury blur her sights on helping others. Instead it guided her down a path she never would have taken otherwise, creating more than hope for those who have lost an eye.
"They're like snowflakes, every eye is different," said Nancy Lambert, Board Certified Ocularist.
With every stroke of her paintbrush Lambert gives her small pieces of art life. She spends five days a week at Dean McGee Eye Institute seeing patients, each who has suffered the loss of an eye.
"It's the window of the soul. When we look into people's eyes, that's how we speak to people," she said.
So, her focus is to give them back what they've lost with a custom made acrylic prosthetic eye.
"I can only have empathy and understanding for what they are going through," she said.
Her understanding comes from losing an eye herself at age 14. However, it's through her own trauma and a love of art that she found her true calling as an ocularist.
"I get the good part. I get to put them back together," Lambert said.
"I was stunned at the craftsmanship, just watching her work," said Lee Green, one of Lambert's patients.
Lee Green lost her left eye when she was a child.
"My mother was mowing, and a rock came from the lawnmower and landed right in the middle of my eye," Green said.
It wasn't until she met Lambert in 2012 that she finally decided to get a prosthetic eye.
"She really connected like a friend and said this is what we can do for you, these are the possibilities," she said.
Nancy creates about six eyes each week and the patients are there from start to finish, starting with taking an impression of the socket.
"It's made out of plaster," Lambert said. "You can see the sockets, everybody has their own characteristics."
However, the painting is her favorite part of the process.
"I choose oil paints because that's my choice of medium, they have a lot of good earth tones and that's what we are made of," Lambert said.
After she uses a dough like material to create the white part of the eye, she takes fibers from this red thread to meticulously design the veins.
"When the clear coat goes on, it looks like they're underneath the surface," she said.
The eye is heat-cured twice throughout the process, then buffed and cleaned before finally being fitted.
"What I'm happy with is the fact that there is no pain, there is no irritation, there is no sense at all about this eye that is a distraction," Green said.
Allowing Lee to never lose sight on what's important to her, teaching at the University of Oklahoma.
"I can go back to doing things to make me feel positive and feel like I'm presenting my best self," she said.
"I have the most rewarding career there is from an artist stand point because a piece of my artwork makes a difference in someone's life and there is nothing better than that," Lambert said.
Each acrylic eye will last five to eight years and the patients go in for maintenance every six months. Currently there are only 125 ocularists in the United States.