Scientists used 3D printing to create a thin layer of protective film on the eye called the cornea. This is the most advanced version of the artificial cornea. If technology advances, it can help millions of people gain light.
According to Che Connon, an organization engineer at Newcastle University and one of the founders of artificial corneas, the ink used to print artificial corneas is very difficult to match. It must be thin enough to be ejected through the 3D printer nozzle. It must also be hard enough to maintain the shape of its 3D structure. To get the correct formula, the researchers added a colloidal pectin called sodium alginate and stem cells extracted from the donor cornea, along with some of the miscellaneous proteins called collagen.
The cornea is the first lens that is penetrated by light. After the light passes through it, it eventually enters the retina at the back of the eye. Injuries or infections of the cornea can result in impaired vision and even blindness. Currently, the damaged cornea can be replaced by the healthy cornea of a deceased donor, but there are still not enough donated corneas to meet the huge demand. According to the World Health Organization, about 5 million people in all parts of the world are blind because infection has harmed their corneas.
However, the new technology described in today’s journal of ophthalmology still has many problems —— stem cells are the key to ink formulation.
There is still a long way to go before these artificial corneas completely replace human natural corneas: Connon hopes to fine-tune the 3D printing process to ensure that the curvature of the artificial cornea matches the natural curvature of the human eyeball. In addition,the cornea also needs to be studied through animal safety before it can be truly transplanted into humans.

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