Severance hospital in Korea prepares to commercialise its first 3D printed artificial eye

The Severance Hospital of the Yonsei University Health System (YUHS) announced today that it will be getting ready to commercialize its first 3D printed artificial eye after three years of research.

According to the Severance Hospital, over 60,00 patients in Korea require an ocular prosthesis (a prosthetic eye) as a result of severe medical conditions, yet only, 40,000 have access to such products.

“We want to help patients who need artificial eyes with our 3D printing technology,” said  Professor Yoon Jin-sook, Researcher at the department of ophthalmology in Severance Hospital.

“Our team plans provide top-notch public health services through high-quality artificial eyes and a network that can increase patient access.”

Professor Yoon Jin-sook, leader of the Artificial Eye Project. Photo via Kore Biomedical Review.
Professor Yoon Jin-sook, leader of the Artificial Eye Project. Photo via Kore Biomedical Review.

Success using DLP technology

Sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT, the Artificial Eye Project began as part of the Ministry’s initiative to develop technology for new and improved medical devices.

A research team from YUHS was led by Professor Jin-sook, and Artificial Eye-maker, Baik Seung-woon, to successfully create a technology that uses 3D printers to simplify the production process for an artificial eye.

After integrating Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printers into the production of the artificial eye,  in March, the YUHS team began the commercialization process. This included licensing out their innovative technology to DLP 3D printing Korea-based specialists, Carima.

Professor Yoon’s team are testing the safety and validity of their artificial eye prototypes, which they believe will be ready by 2020. Furthermore, Camira is aiding the YUHS team in obtaining its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification from SGS  which will eventually lead to mass production technology for its prototype.

Furthermore, YUHS and Camira plan to establish a remote one-stop consultation network system that will provide artificial eyes to patients all over the world.

The team has also registered a patent regarding the technology in China.

DLP technology and ocular applications

DLP technology focuses on delivering a wide range of materials through high resolution, compact housing, and high processing speed. In many ways it differs from stereolithography (SLA) printers as it uses UV light instead of laser technology to selectively harden resin.

This process has seldom been used in 3D printing for ocular applications. Luxexcel, a Belgian 3D printed optics specialist, created 3D printed eyeglass lenses using the vat polymerization process. This involves using a photocurable, acrylic resin as the primary feedstock.

In addition, this method has been proven to be capable of making unique lenses at a rate of up to four lenses per hour which are then coated and framed for the wearer.

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Featured image shows an artificial eye implant. Photo via Daniel Ezra Clinic.

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