Nature: 3D printing makes it cheaper and faster to produce artificial eyes

February 29, 2024  14:20

A team of ophthalmologists led by the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany has developed an innovative method of 3D printing artificial eyeballs, which allows for faster production of high-quality artificial eyes. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Communications.

It is noted that the loss of an eyeball can occur due to trauma or a serious illness. Usually, after an enucleation (eye removal) procedure, patients decide to replace the eyeball with an artificial analogue. However, according to scientists, sometimes, such analogues can cause discomfort and fail to meet aesthetic standards.

The new technology for producing artificial eyes is based on 3D printing using a polymer similar to polymethylmethacrylate or acrylic resin. This material is often used to make temporary prosthetics for long-term use because of its safety and resistance to breakage.

The researchers explained that the process of making eye prostheses usually takes about eight hours. In addition, these artificial eye replacements can be expensive. 3D printing allows for faster and cheaper production.

The scientists obtained the data used to program the 3D printer from optical coherence tomography, a diagnostic study of the structures of the eye. They then applied computer modelling to accurately estimate the size and shape of future samples before printing. According to the authors of the study, this method of producing artificial eyeballs is optimal because printing takes only six minutes. In addition, the prostheses produced in this way are highly biocompatible.

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