Home Medical Researchers have developed a resin for 3D printing of eye lenses

Researchers have developed a resin for 3D printing of eye lenses

A research team at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, has made a significant breakthrough in technology for ophthalmic applications with the introduction of a novel resin for 3D printing intraocular implants.

Intraocular lenses are artificial lenses used in patients with cataracts, a condition in which the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and impairs vision. In addition, IOLs can also be used to correct refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (presbyopia).

Lead author Dr Aram Saeed, Associate Professor in Healthcare Technologies at UEA’s School of Pharmacy, said: “For the first time, we have developed a resin that can be used to print ocular devices directly. While still in the early stages, the ability to 3D print these lenses could significantly enhance eye care for patients by offering unprecedented levels of customisation and design precision, potentially leading to better clinical outcomes.”

Traditionally, IOLs have been made from materials such as glass, silicone and increasingly hydrophilic and hydrophobic acrylics, which offer excellent optical clarity, flexibility and biocompatibility. Current manufacturing methods such as turning and molding offer high quality lenses but are limited in terms of design complexity and customization. 3D printing could not only improve manufacturing speed and precision, but also enable more complex and customized designs.

Dr Aram Saeed said: “3D printing could significantly enhance the production of ocular devices, not only improving speed and precision in manufacturing but also enabling greater complexity and customisation in design. Our proof-of-concept paper is the first in a series that will detail our developments in this area and set the stage for transforming eye care practices globally. Our work combines material science with healthcare technology and requires extensive know-how in developing these types of ocular devices. As we continue to publish our findings and share our advancements, we aim to be at the forefront of the industry, working with industrial partners and researchers worldwide to refine and enhance the technology.”

The researchers have developed a method in which a 3D printer uses the resin to print lenses with integrated support structures. After the printing process, the lenses are measured and polished in a post-processing device to achieve the desired tolerances. Initial tests show that the printed lenses have good optical clarity, are foldable and can be implanted into the human capsular bag.

The UEA researchers are working closely with industry partners to further refine the technology. Dr. Saeed and his team plan to start clinical trials in the next few years. Their work has already been protected by a US patent and supported by UEA Enterprise Limited.

Co-author Michael Wormstone, Emeritus Professor at UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “If successful in further developments, this new technology could transform the industry by enabling portable manufacturing solutions, especially beneficial in remote and economically disadvantaged areas. It also has the potential to support the production of premium, customised lenses that could enhance surgical outcomes in more advanced healthcare settings.”

This research could represent a significant advance in ophthalmology and revolutionize the manufacture of intraocular lenses. The combination of materials science and medical technology promises to significantly improve patient care and set new standards in medical manufacturing.

Mr Anas Injarie, a leading consultant ophthalmologist at NNUH with more than 20 years of experience, said: “This innovation has the potential to enable the production of lenses that match patient specifications in design and optical performance. For premium markets, it represents an exciting possibility to provide tailored treatments that could enhance patient satisfaction and surgical success.”

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