British man given 3D printed eye in world first, hospital says

Steve Fierz, 47, an engineer from Hackney, east London, was given a left eye on Thursday and tried it out for the first time for volume earlier this month.

Moorfields Eye Hospital said in a news release Thursday that the prosthetic eye is the first fully digital artificial eye to be created for a patient.

The eye is more realistic than other alternatives, the hospital said, and is designed to have “clearer definition and true pupil depth.”

Other artificial eyes consist of a hand-drawn iris on a disc that is then fused into the eye socket.

The hospital added in the statement that its design prevents light from passing to the “full depth” of the eye.

In addition to appearing more realistic, the procedure is less invasive.

The fitting of conventional prosthetics requires taking a mold from the eye socket, while in the development of a 3D prosthetic eye, the socket is digitally scanned to create a detailed image.

Verze’s functional eye was also examined to ensure that both eyes looked the same.

Possibility to cut waiting times in half

The 3D image was then sent to Germany to be printed before being shipped back to the UK, where it was completed and polished by an eye specialist at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

“I’ve needed a prosthetic since I was 20, and I’ve always felt self-conscious about it,” Fierz was quoted as saying in a press release.

“When I leave my house, I often take a second look in the mirror, and I don’t like what I saw. This new eye looks great, and based on 3D digital printing technology, it’s going to be even better.”

Moorfields Eye Hospital said 3D printing has the potential to “cut in half” the time it takes to develop an artificial eye, from six weeks to about two or three.

A CNN spokesperson told CNN that a clinical trial involving more patients will begin soon.

Professor Mandeep Sajo, clinical leader of the project at Moorfields Eye Hospital and professor of ophthalmology and ocular oncology at University College London, said in a statement he was “excited” about the potential of the new development method.

Speaking before the eye was fitted, Sago said, “We hope the upcoming clinical trial will provide us with strong evidence about the value of this new technology, and show the difference it makes for patients.”

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