Man becomes the world’s first 3D-printed eyeball receiver

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Doctors see the possibilities in 3D.

A British man wrote medical history on Thursday after becoming the first patient in history to be fitted with a 3D-printed eyeball as part of a groundbreaking new study.

“This new eye looks amazing, and because it’s based on digital 3D printing technology, it’s only going to get better and better,” says London-born Steve Verze told the Daily Mail of the eye-opening procedure. At present, the pioneering technology is used replicate everything from steaks to entire neighborhoods.

The engineer, who is in his 40s, has reportedly lost his left eye in his 20s and has been using prostheses ever since.

But Verze felt self-conscious about the artificial globes and admitted, “When I leave my home, I often take a second look in the mirror and I have not liked what I have seen.”

So he chose to have a 3D-printed at Moorfields Eye Hospital, which offers patients state-of-the-art eyeballs as part of a clinical trial aimed at speeding up the process of replacing peepers – as well as making them more realistic. The accompanying images show the patient’s replica retina, which looks impossible to distinguish from the real one as if it had been inserted digitally via CGI.

The doctor's hope for 3D printing will revolutionize the eyeball prosthesis industry.
Doctors hope that 3D printing will revolutionize the eyeball prosthesis industry.
Moorfields Eye Hospital

And while the synthetic visual organ will not give back Verze’s vision, he hopes it will at least restore his confidence.

“We hope the upcoming clinical trial will provide us with robust evidence of the value of this new technology, showing the difference it makes to patients,” said Professor Mandeep Sagoo, an ophthalmologist consultant at Moorfields.

It currently takes patients six weeks to get a new eye, which then requires them to undergo surgery, several appointments and a waiting time of four to five months after surgery to get a prosthesis adjusted. However, doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital say the 3D-printed option can only take three weeks, the Daily Mail reported.

The patient simply receives a scan of their empty socket so that the doctor can build a map of the area using the software. They then scan the good eye to ensure it is a match and send the drawing to Germany, where the synthetic stargazer is 3D-printed within two and a half hours. Finally, the finished product is sent back to the hospital and mounted on the patient.

“We are enthusiastic about the potential of this all-digital prosthetic eye,” Sagoo joked.

Creating state-of-the-art eyeball prostheses is not the only way 3D printing is revolutionizing medicine. In August, Israeli researchers wrote medical history according to 3D printing models of brain cancer patients’ tumors to test the effectiveness of potential treatments before being used on real people.


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