First 3D printed eye prosthesis completed by Belgian ophthalmologists. While new medical 3D printing applications seem to be developed every week, there are still so many fields in healthcare that could benefit from custom 3D printed solutions. Fortunately, Belgian specialists from the Academic Hospital of the University of Leuven have just brought 3D printing to ophthalmology as well. They have developed the world’s first 3D printed eye prosthesis, for a 68-year-old male patient. What’s more, the prosthesis only cost €1,300 (approximately $1,430) to make, and is largely covered by the patient’s insurance.
Of course eye prostheses have around for decades, and the reason why 3D printing hasn’t yet been applied in this field is probably because there’s very little demand for them. They’re obviously worn by patients who lose an eye for whatever reason. Serious eye infections, eye tumors or a misshaped blind eye can necessitate eye removal, while some patients are born without an eye. In Leuven, they only see about two patients per month who need an eye prosthesis. These aren’t bionic, but merely prosthetic – patients can’t see through them, but the muscle tissue surrounding the eye can facilitate movement to create a normal appearance.