Yesterday in the UK, a forty-year-old man became the first to receive a 3D printed prosthetic eye, a process that has been in its clinical testing stages for several years.
The procedure took place at Moorsfields Eye Hospital in London. Typically, a prosthetic eye of this nature would be made from acrylic and would take about two hours to fit a patient via. Molding their eye socket. Now, the procedure takes half the time and the outcome looks more realistic than the acrylic methods.
The 3D printed eye may be a cheaper and faster option for patients in the future, as it allows for less required man-power and potentially fewer materials. The creation of an acrylic eye takes hours, as it must be molded and painted by hand to match the patient’s particular eye color.
Should 3D printing prove to be a feasible alternative for prosthetics, experts may be able to create as many as 150 in a single hour with even greater levels of realism. The components of the eye are printed from powder using a Z-corp 510 machine and then are encased in resin. The product is medically safe, realistic looking, and less expensive to create with the appropriate machinery.
The team at Moorsfields anticipates this reducing waitlist times greatly.
The news comes in light of clinical trials exploring the potential of fully digital prosthetic eyes. The consultant ophthalmologist at Moorsfield stated, “We hope the forthcoming clinical trial will provide us with robust evidence about the value of this new technology, showing what a difference it makes for patients.”
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