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United Kingdom: man to receive first 3D printed ocular prosthesis

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A patient at Moorfields Eye Ophthalmology Hospital in London will be the first man in the world to receive an eye created on a 3D printer. Doctors believe that the prosthesis will be more realistic than the traditional acrylic eye.

“I have needed an ocular prosthesis since I was 20 and have always felt insecure about it,” Steve Varze, now 40, told the BBC.

This innovation will not only allow for more realistic prostheses, but it will also reduce the time it takes for patients to adapt to prostheses by half, from six to three weeks.

“When I leave the house, I usually look at myself in the mirror and never like what I see,” Varze lamented. “These new eyes are fantastic and, created with 3D printing technology, they will keep getting better and better.”

The traditional technique of making eye prostheses involves the patient undergoing a two hour session during which an eye cavity mold is made. After that, the fabrication of the prosthesis takes three weeks. At the end of the process, the false eye is adjusted and painted to look like a real eye.

3D technology is expected to make the prosthesis faster, in about two weeks, and the initial consultation to make the mold could take as little as half an hour, according to Moorfields Eye Hospital.

“We hope the clinical trial provides us with strong evidence of the value of this technology, demonstrating how it can make a difference for patients,” Prof Mandeep Sagoo, ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye, told the BBC.

For the expert, the new technique has “clearly the potential to reduce waiting lists”.

The use of 3D printers to attempt to make prostheses for certain parts of the human body is not new. Earlier this year, scientists at the University of Swansea in Wales looked for a three-dimensional print of a replacement of human cartilage to give a ten-year-old girl a prosthetic ear.

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