A British man has become the first ever patient to be fitted with a 3D-printed eye.
Steve Verze, 47-year-old engineer from Hackney, east London was fitted for the eye earlier this month and received it late last week. In a statement, Moorfields Eye Hospital shared that the prosthetic is the first fully digital prosthetic eye created for a patient.
The medical feat comes ahead of hospital’s ground-breaking clinical trials, which offer patients state-of-the-art eyeballs that are more realistic and installed in a less invasive procedure.
Verze has been using using prosthetic peepers since his 20s and has detailed feeling insecure about his artificial eye. “When I leave my home, I often take a second glance in the mirror, and I’ve not liked what I’ve seen,” he told ITV News. “You don’t want people to notice. You want people to walk past you and not even imagine that there was something artificial there.”
Though, with the advancements of 3D printing, he’s built up more confidence. “This new eye looks fantastic, and being based on 3D digital printing technology, it is only going to be better and better,” he shared. “I’m so happy.”
Currently, patients have to go through a six-week process to get a new eye, which entails surgery, multiple appointments, and a four-to-five month waiting period post-op to get a prosthetic fitted. In comparison, doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital claim that the 3D-printed alternative could take only three weeks.
A scan of the patient’s empty sockets are first conducted in order for doctors to build a map of the area using software. Afterwards, they scan the remaining eye and send the blueprint to Germany, where the artificial eye is 3D-printed within two and half hours. Lastly, the finished product is sent back to the hospital and fitted to the patient.
While clinical trials are still ongoing, the technology seems promising. “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,” said Professor Mandeep Sagoo, a consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields. “We are excited about the potential for this fully digital prosthetic eye.”