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Boon for Eye Cancer Survivors: Miami Researchers 3 D Print Eye Prosthesis

Update Date: Oct 21, 2014 09:10 AM EDT

Three-dimensional printing has come to the rescue of eye-cancer patients by offering them prosthesis at low cost.

Researchers at University of Miami used topographical scanning and 3 D printing to create prosthesis that sits in eye sockets of those who removed their eyes due to cancer or other disorders.  The removal of eye-socket contents is called exenteration, which is done in people with eye cancer as a life-saving measure. Eye-cancer affects nearly 2,700 Americans every year and has high rates of mortality associated with it, a press release informed.

Those who undergo exenteration have to either use an eye-patch or opt for a custom designed prosthesis designed by specialists known as ocularist. These prosthesis cost anywhere between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000, paid from pocket as insurance providers do not cover its cost.

To make the prosthesis, the research team scanned the undamaged side of the face and created a mirror image of it. The mirror image and a scan of the damaged side of the face were used to generate the final scan that is printed using nano-clay particles.

The 3 D printed prosthesis promises to be better than conventional prosthesis as it fits better and mimics skin colors precisely. It can made in a few hours against days an ocularist would take to make conventional prosthesis, and costs much less.

"Hopefully, using this quick and less expensive 3 D printing process, we can make an affordable facial prosthesis for her and also help thousands of other people like her who lack the resources to obtain one through an ocularist," said Dr. David Tse professor of ophthalmology.

"Once we have a patient scanned, we have the mold, so we can create a new prosthesis in no time. Our long-term goal is to help patients anywhere in the world. We could get a mobile scan, download the data in Miami, print out the prosthesis and ship it back to the patient the next day," said Landon Grace assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, 

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