3D Printed Bionic Eye Could Restore Sight to the Blind


In a 2016 study, Americans were asked which health condition would be their “most dreaded” and the top pick – made by about 47 percent of respondents – was blindness.

For the record, losing one’s sight beat out losing one’s memory, speech, hearing, losing a limb, and contracting HIV. Umm – are we sure they saw all the choices?

Well, for a professor at the University of Minnesota, blindness hits close to home. Michael McAlpine’s mother actually went blind after a surgical procedure, and the tragedy led the scientist down the pathway towards what’s being dubbed the world’s first “bionic eye.”

The University recently announced that a prototype of the eye had been successfully 3D printed and that it could cure certain types of vision impairments and conditions of blindness.

A custom printer was created to address the challenging task of operating on curved surfaces. According to a report, the process begins by coating the surface with silver ink that, once dried, were topped with photodiodes, which are said to convert light into electricity.

The eye was then tested for electricity conversion and was said to be about 25 percent efficient – “a good result,” according to the research team. The next step is a prototype with more receptors and better efficiency, along with identifying an energy source that can accommodate constant use which, in this case, might likely be solar. The engineering team is also attempting to hunt down the right material for the implant that’s both spherical and suitable for the eye socket.

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