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3D-printed eyes for blind

3D printing technology has been increasingly used in various industries. With increase in its applications the price and complexity is reduced. 3D printers could be found as a household thing. They are found in many schools and business around the globe, performing a variety of jobs from serving as a creative teaching tool to prototyping latest designs. One of the important use for this technology is within medical field.

Medical application for 3D printing is expanding and could revolutionize healthcare. Medical application can be categorized into several categories, including: tissue and organ fabrication; creation of customized prosthetics, implants and anatomical parts; and pharmaceutical research regarding drug dosage forms, delivery and discovery. The application of 3D printing in medical field can provide many benefits including: the customization and personalization of medical products, drugs and equipments; cost-effectiveness; increased productivity; the democratization of design and manufacturing; and enhanced collaboration, However it should be cautioned that despite recent significant and exciting medical advances involving 3D printing, there are many notable areas in medical field where there is a need to explore more.

The most common material used in 3D printing to date is plastic. It’s cheap, easily molded and recyclable. However the usage of plastic, or any single material, limits the designer and hence the design of what can be made and how it can be used, not only in medical research, but in any industry. So to expand the possibilities, scientists and engineers have invented a number of various 3D printers that can be used to print anything from human tissue to electronic components, bringing the concepts of bionic parts and curing blindness closer to reality. Currently it has been used to print customized eyeglass frames. With basic knowledge of CAD, one can successfully print perfect set of frames tailored for your face and style. Many advanced eye research institutes are working on building prosthetic eyes using 3D printing. Prosthetic eyes must be shaped to fit the individual’s unique eye socket shape exactly to be the most comfortable for the person and not lead to long-term facial deformity. With high-resolution printers, ocularists can print custom eyes with multicolored iris,

There are many different types of retinal damage including retinal detachment, diabetes, disease, macular holes, among others. Each of these can also be caused by many different factors such as heredity, health, and even trauma, and while scientists continue to work on preventing these causes, the idea that they could all be corrected is even more promising. If the unique multidimensional architecture of retinal cells could be built using 3D printers, the goal of rebuilding retina and helping many blind people could be achieved.

There may also be a possibility that the person is diagnosed with anophthalmia a type of cancer where the patients eyeballs have to be removed. In that case a company in Italy is working on bionic eyes. Which would combine 3D printing tissue with electrical components to build a working eye that would connect to a base implanted inside the eye socket which connects to the optic nerve, and thereby the brain. It includes a camera which transmits radio signals to a microchip in the back of the eye. These signals are then converted into electrical impulses, which are able to stimulate cells in the retina and connect to the optic nerve. They are then transferred to the vision processing areas of the brain, where they can be interpreted as an image which the patient can see. With the current prototypes, patients don’t exactly see the same way that we do. Instead they see blob-like shapes and lights, but the technology has proven to work in allowing blind individuals to walk around unassisted. Once these trials and experiments are verified and ready to use, it will help the blind to see the wonders of the earth.

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