3-D Printed Eyes

Someone I know slightly has a prosthetic  eye which she has already lost twice. Due to the involved process and cost of a prosthetic  eye I am told she has been wearing an eye patch. So when I read about a man in England who has been fitted with a 3-D printed prosthetic eye, my interest peaked. When I first read about 3-D printing it was about how easy it would now be to make guns and it felt alarming. Since then the possibilities of 3-D keep unfolding. I recently did a podcast about 3-D homes, and 3-D prosthetics for limbs are being used in several countries helping with land mine victims and others. 3-D makes what it creates more affordable. And so it is with prosthetic eyes. They usually run several thousand dollars. With 3-D it could be as low as $50 although it is doubtful that is what they will end up costing. The man in England, Steve Verze is the first. They are looking for 40 more people to continue  the clinical trial. They are assessing the 3-D printed eye  for things such as movement, fit, comfort, mucous discharge. Already they know that the initial scan to print the eye which takes only a few seconds can lead to a better fit than a regular prosthetic eye and can better replicate the natural color of the eye. What is important about this news is that it is happening right now at the Fraunhofer institute for Computer Graphics Research and Fraunhofer noted that the process is made possible by the algorithms of  its Cuttlefish:Eye software. In plain English that means it is not a dream, it is   real and here now. To me it’s not just the 3-D printed eye, it’s what it stands for,  the promise of it coming to life. When 3-D is used to better the lives of people as it aims to do with 3-D printed eyes, it is not only extending the potentials of 3-D, it is contributing to using technology to  do what it was to do, that is to make a better world.

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