[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