Fraunhofer Technology has announced that for the first time, a patient has been fitted with a highly realistic 3D printed prosthetic eye.
The high-tech version was given to patient Steve Verze as a permanent replacement for his traditional prosthetic eye. “It gives me more confidence,” he told On Demand News. “If I can’t tell the difference, I know other people can’t either.”
Fraunhofer collaborated with the British company Ocupeye Ltd to develop a new process that is both faster and less invasive. Previously, doctors would have to make a mold of the eye socket, which is so difficult for children that they would have to be sedated.
The team is now able to perform a non-invasive 2.4-second scan with a specially modified ophthalmic scanner that provides a precise measurement of the eye socket. This information is combined with a color-calibrated image of a healthy eye and sent through Fraunhofer’s “Cuttlefish:Eye” system, which quickly generates a 3D print model. According to Fraunhofer, the software is particularly adept at producing “realistic representations of even transparent materials.”
Fit AG, a company with experience in additive manufacturing for medical technology, then prints out the model. Ocularists then inspect the prostheses and give them a final polish and touchup. According to the press release, “Ocupeye can potentially fulfill the annual requirement of around 10,000 prostheses required for the UK market with a single 3D printer.”
According to University College London, Verze’s prosthetic is a precursor to a forthcoming clinical trial that will compare the effectiveness of 3D printed eyes vs. traditional, hand-made eyes. A total of 40 patients will be recruited to evaluate the prostheses for motility (movement), cosmesis (appearance), fit, comfort, mucous discharge, and other factors. “This new eye looks fantastic, and because it’s based on 3D digital printing technology, it’ll only get better,” Verze said in a statement.