Student 3D Prints Eyes

[Ondřej Vocílka] is a student at the Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic.  In addition, the 23-year-old lost his vision in his left eye. While attending a lecture on 3D printing, he wondered if he could 3D print an ophthalmic prosthesis — an artificial eye. Turns out, he could. If you don’t speak Czech, you’ll need to call on a translation service like we did.

Unlike conventional glass or plastic eyes, it is trivial to change parameters like color when 3D printing the prosthetic. This is especially important with the iris and the finished product takes about 90 minutes to print. There is additional time required to coat the product with an acrylic layer to mimic the gloss of a natural eye.

Apparently, in the Czech Republic, a conventional prosthetic eye costs about 2,500 crowns. The printed eye costs about a third of that. The student hopes to create an even less expensive version that is entirely 3D printed.

To create the artificial eye, he scanned an existing prosthetic and a natural eye. Computer modeling allowed the production of an eye with the right shape, texture, and color.

Of course, the printed eye doesn’t see. But there is technology that can help some forms of blindness. We’ve talked about the conventional manufacture of eyes before (although the original article is gone) but you can see how it is done in the video below. If you want to know where the IEEE thought artificial body parts were going in 2008, we covered that, too. We imagine 3D printing and recent advances in materials changes a lot of those assumptions.

Photo: Brno University of Technology

20 thoughts on “Student 3D Prints Eyes

  1. The auto shop teacher at the local high school had a row of fake eyes on the wall with a sign that said “If you don’t want to wear your safety glasses, choose your glass eye now while you can still see” (Right above the “No cursing unless bleeding” sign)

  2. IF you designed it with a removable iris/core. You could have some fun with the optional changes.
    Hearing aid cell and a LED.
    Laser pointer.
    Remote fob for your car.
    RFI tag?

        1. Isn’t it already going to be around 90F? I imagine that it would be a few degrees cooler than body temp due to its relatively exposed nature, but I’d be more concerned about discomfort from heating.

  3. Translation is not accurate. 3D prited eye costed 1/3, but with acrylic layer and time to create the model it costs the same as conventional eye. So, cheaper is the second eye in case you can use same model. This is the reason he is looking for cheaper version – he would like to print also acrylic layer (some kind of bio compatible materials) to cut down the cost. Anyway the idea to have your eye stored as a file at clinic so they can send you new eye by postal service is great ;-)

  4. If it’s a typical 3D printer, it seems like it’d be awfully rough to be putting in an eye socket, at least without lots of post-print sanding and polishing and smoothing.

    Also you’d want to put some kind of food- or bio-safe impermeable coating on it. Bacteria can get into the nooks and crannies between layers and make a home for themselves.

    1. well, 3d printing doesn’t mean fused filament printing, as the whole point was to have the iris printed in color(probably full color powder print) . plus he does say that he put a layer of acrylic on top to get the glossy aspect( wich would seal the surface but i don’t know how well this goes with human tissues in the eye socket. at least i’d worry about hydrolysis after a while)

      but yeah interesting subject… just lacks so many detail and it’s blurred by the approximate translation….

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