Bloke becomes first patient in the world to get 3D-printed eyeball

A man from London has become the first person in the world to have a 3D-printed eyeball fitted.

Steve Verze, in his 40s, lost his left eye over 20 years ago when he was 20 years old and has been using prosthetics – which need to be replaced every five years – ever since.

The Daily Mail reports that the engineer said the plastic acrylic versions left him feeling “self-conscious”, but that has now changed after he was fitted with a 3D-printed eye – which is said to look far more like a real eye – at Moorfields Eye Hospital on Thursday.

While it won’t restore vision in his left eye, he hopes it will bring back some of his confidence.

Steve was the first person to be offered the 3D-printed eye, as part of a clinical trial, with around 60,000 people in the UK in need of prosthetic eyes.

He said: “I've needed a prosthetic since I was 20, and I've always felt self-conscious about it. When I leave my home I often take a second glance in the mirror, and I've not liked what I've seen.

“This new eye looks fantastic and, being based on 3D digital printing technology, it is only going to be better and better.”

It currently takes about six weeks for a patient to get a prosthetic eye fitted, but according to doctors, the 3D-printed eyes could halve that time to three weeks, as it only takes two-and-a-half hours to print.

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The new procedure involves a scan of the empty socket so that software can build a map of the area, with the good eye also scanned to ensure it is a match.

The digital maps are then sent to Germany where they are manufactured by a 3D-printer, before being posted back to the hospital which applies the finishing touches and then fits it to a patient.

Professor Mandeep Sagoo, a consultant ophthalmologist at the hospital, said: “We are excited about the potential for this fully digital prosthetic eye.

“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. It clearly has the potential to reduce waiting lists.”

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