Scientists just 3D printed a human cornea that can save millions from blindness

3D print human corneas

The outermost layer of the human eye, the cornea plays an important role in focusing vision. Unfortunately, there is a significant shortage of corneas available for transplants, with 10 million people worldwide requiring surgery to prevent corneal blindness as a result of diseases such as trachoma, an infectious eye disorder. In addition to that almost 5 million people suffer total blindness due to corneal scarring caused by burns, lacerations, abrasion, or disease.

In order to cope up with the situation, the scientists have managed to 3D print human corneas, which once perfected could restore vision to millions of people.

The proof-of-concept research, which was conducted in the UK by Newcastle University, was published in Experimental Eye Research. The study shows how stem cells (human corneal stromal cells) from a healthy donor cornea were mixed together with alginate and collagen to create a solution that can be printed as ‘bio-ink’. Using a simple low-cost 3D bio-printer, the bio-ink was successfully projected to make a human cornea and it took less than 10 minutes to print.

What we have shown is that it is feasible to print corneas using coordinates taken from a patient eye and that this approach has potential to combat the world-wide shortage, said Che Connon, the Newcastle University professor.