A London engineer who needed a prosthesis for twenty years will have an eye implanted with a 3D printer. This technique could make it possible to cut manufacturing times by half.
A London patient is due to become the first in the world on Thursday to have an ocular prosthesis made by a 3D printer implanted, said the hospital in the British capital which is performing the operation.
Steve Verze “will be the first person in the world to receive a fully digitally created, 3D printed eye,” the Moorfields Biomedical Research Center said in a statement.
The use of 3D printing should make it possible to halve the manufacturing times for this false eye, currently around six weeks, while making more realistic implants, he said.
“I’ve needed a prosthesis since I was 20, and I’ve always felt self-conscious about it,” said patient Steve Verze, a 40-year-old London engineer.
“When I leave home, I often look at myself a second time in the mirror, and I don’t like what I see,” he added. “This new eye”, which he was able to try out previously in November, “is fantastic and (…) things can only get better and better”.
From a major intervention to a simple scan of the eye
Current acrylic implants require first the creation of a mold of the eye socket, a heavy and invasive procedure, especially for children who may require general anesthesia. They are then placed and painted.
With the 3D version, a simple scan of the eye is enough. Software builds a three-dimensional model, and the result is sent to a printer in Germany, which prints the eye in two and a half hours. Faster to manufacture, this false eye also seems more natural because it lets light through to its entire depth.
“We hope this clinical trial provides us with strong evidence of the added value of this new technology, and the difference it makes for patients. This clearly has the potential to reduce waiting lists,” commented the professor. Mandeep Sagoo, ophthalmologist at the hospital.
According to the Moorfields Eye Charity, more than 8 million people worldwide have an ocular prosthesis, as a result of a deformity, illness or trauma. The organization emphasizes that manufacturing techniques have changed little in fifty years.