British man given first 3D printed eye

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eye, Moorlands eye hospital, 3D, NHS, Germany, UK
Imahe Pixabay Source CNN

The Moorfields Eye Hospital in London has claimed a world first, with a British man being given the first 3D printed eye. The eye according to the hospital is a fully digital prosthetic that is designed to replace the so called “glass eye”.

The eye, which was fitted to Steve Verze a 47 year-old engineer from Hackney in East London, is said to be more realistic than the other currently available options. Whereas traditional replacements lack depth effectively being a hand painted disc that is embedded in the eye socket, the 3d eye has clearer definition and gives real depth to the replacement pupil.

Other prosthetic eyes consist of an iris hand-painted onto a disc that is then embedded into the eye socket.

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Perhaps most importantly, Moorfields say that the procedure is less invasive and more realistic. Methods used up until now have required a mould of the eye whereas the 3D version can be produced from digital scan. In addition to scanning the eye socket, a scan is taken of the functional eye ensuring that the replica is an accurate copy and therefore very realistic.

The process is quick

The new method allows the replacement to be produced much quicker and is likely to reduce waiting times for those who need a prosthetic eye. The technology has according to Moorfields the potential to cut waiting times in half.


Producing the eye requires the attending hospital to take scans of the eye socket and the functional eye. These are then sent to Germany where the 3D eye is printed a process that currently takes around three weeks. Before fitting the hospital checks and polishes the eye which is simply inserted into the vacant socket.

The 3D eye is realistic

According to the hospital’s press release Verze said that “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. Now this new eye looks fantastic and, being based on 3D digital printing technology, it’s only going to be better and better,” he added.


What does the hospital think?

The lead on the project, Professor Mandeep Sagoo a professor of ophthalmology and ocular oncology at University College London, speaking to CNN said that there was “excitement about the potential of the new method”. Referring to the British man fitted with the first 3D printed eye, he said that “we hope the forthcoming clinical trial will provide us with robust evidence about the value of this new technology, showing what a difference it makes for patients.”


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