United Kingdom (UK) Patient Fitted With World’s First 3D-Printed Prosthetic Eye

  • April 22, 2022

People can wear a prosthetic eye for various reasons.  For instance, someone may wear it if their eye did not develop normally or if they had an accident or had to have it removed because of cancer.

A prosthetic eye is actually quite a common treatment for patients who have lost an eye, according to Healthline.  The idea is to create a “more balanced facial appearance ” and also to make the eye socket more comfortable and cover the structures in it.  Prosthetic eyes have certainly evolved over the years from the early versions that were made of painted clay and attached to a piece of cloth.

Researchers at the University College London (UCL) reported in November 2021 the first-ever case of a patient who was fitted with a 3D-printed eye to replace his traditional one.

3D-printed eye prosthetics are said to have better aesthetics and are more realistic.  They are also easier to make because they are created using digital scans, unlike the traditional method in which an “invasive” mold has to be made — “a process often so difficult for children they require a general anesthetic,” UCL noted in a news release.  It is also faster to create the 3D-printed eye prosthetics, with the process taking just two to three weeks to complete compared to the traditional acrylic prosthetic eyes that take approximately six (6) weeks.

“I’ve needed a prosthetic since I was 20, and I’ve always felt self-conscious about it.  When I leave my home, I often take a second glance in the mirror, and I’ve not liked what I’ve seen,” Steve Verze, the patient who received the 3D-printed prosthetic eye, said in the news release.  “This new eye looks fantastic and, being based on 3D digital printing technology, it’s only going to be better and better.”

This is only the first step for 3D-printed eye prosthetics as a clinical trial from UCL and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is set to test its effectiveness compared to the traditional ones.

For the trial, each of the 40 patients will wear a prosthesis for four (4) months and assess it on various factors, including the fit, look, function, movement and mucous discharge.  “We are excited about the potential for this fully digital prosthetic eye,” Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Mandeep Sagoo, who also works as a consultant at Moorfields, said in the news release.  “We hope our forthcoming clinical trial will provide us with robust evidence about the value of this new technology, showing what a difference it makes for patients.  It clearly has the potential to reduce waiting lists.”

REFERENCE:  International Business Time; 29 NOV 2021; Athena Chan

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