A hospital patient from Hackney, East London in the United Kingdom, will be the first person to ever be fitted with a 3D printed prosthetic eye, press release reveals.
The prosthetic eye is designed to look more realistic than traditional acrylic prostheses, and the 3D printing process drastically reduces the waiting time for a new prosthesis from six weeks to between two and three weeks.
“The new eye looks fantastic”
Patient Steve Warz will undergo the procedure on Thursday, November 25, at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, managed by the public health service of the United Kingdom NHS. Traditionally, a prosthetic patient will have to undergo a two-hour procedure to shape the eye cavity before their prosthetic eye is placed and then painted. With the new 3D printing method, the procedure time is reduced to just 30 minutes, according to Moorfields Eye Hospital.
The new process allows specialists to scan the patient’s eye cavity, allowing the software to draw a 3D model of the printer. This data is sent to The 3D printer in Germany, where it prints in just 2.5 hours before being shipped to the UK
The patient for the first 3D-printed eye prosthesis, Varze, 40, says he has been wearing the eye prosthesis since he was 20 and that “the new eye looks fantastic.” What’s more, “based on 3D digital printing technology, it will get better and better,” he says.
3D printing will transform bionic prostheses
While this is impressive at first, the 3D printed eye should not be confused with bionic eye technology, which aims to help people see with the help of implantable electronic devices. An example of bionic vision technology comes from Pixium Vision SA, which won the HealthTech 2020 award for his Prima system. Its technology allows blind people to see with the help of a photovoltaic substitute for photoreceptors.
However, as Professor Mandeep Sagoo, an ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, explained, he and his staff are “excited” about the possibility that the 3D printed eye prosthesis technology they use may allow fully digital eye prosthetics in the future. “We hope that the upcoming clinical trial will provide us with solid evidence of the value of this new technology, showing what a difference it makes for patients. There is obviously potential to reduce waiting lists, ”explains Sagoo.
According to to the WHO, approximately 285 million people worldwide suffer from visual impairment, of which 39 million are completely blind. Thanks to new advances in 3D printing technology and bionic vision systems, waiting times are likely to be significantly reduced, while patients’ quality of life is significantly improved.