British man becomes world’s first patient to receive a 3D-printed eyeball at NHS hospital in London

British man becomes world’s first patient to receive a 3D-printed eyeball at NHS hospital in London

  • Steve Verze lost his left eye 20 years ago and has been using prosthetics ever since
  • A man in his forties, from Hackney in London, said they made him feel confident
  • But he said the 3D-printed eye “looks great” and can only “get better”
  • Moorfields Eye Hospital doctors put the 3D-printed eye in a clinical trial


An NHS patient today becomes the first in the world to receive a 3D-printed eye as part of a trial.

Steve Verze, from Hackney in London, lost his left eye in his twenties and has been using prosthetics ever since – which have to be replaced every five years.

The engineer, now in his 40s, said the plastic acrylic versions made him “self-conscious” and took a second look in the mirror.

But he’s now ready to walk out of Moorfields Eye Hospital with the very first 3D-printed eye, which is said to look much more like a real eye.

While the 3D-printed version won’t restore vision in his left eye, he hopes it will bring back some of his confidence.

Doctors at the hospital are offering patients 3D-printed eyes as part of a clinical trial, which they say could cut wait times for prosthetics in half.

At this point, it takes about six weeks for a patient to have a prosthesis fitted, as it needs surgery and it also needs to be poured into the socket.

A 3D-printed eye only takes two and a half hours to print. About 60,000 people in the UK need an eye prosthesis.

Steve Verze, an engineer in his forties, will walk out of the hospital today with a 3D-printed eye. He lost his left eye in his twenties and has been using prosthetics that have to be replaced every five years ever since

Mr. Verze is pictured here looking at his new eye in the mirror.  He left the hospital today with the eye

Mr. Verze is pictured here looking at his new eye in the mirror. He left the hospital today with the eye

Mr Verze said: ‘I have needed a prosthesis since I was 20, and I have always felt insecure about it.

“When I leave my house, I often take a second look in the mirror, and I don’t like what I’ve seen.

“This new eye looks fantastic and because it’s based on 3D digital printing technology, it just keeps getting better and better.”

How are 3D printed eyes made?

Moorfields Eye Hospital doctors are using 3D printed eyes as part of a clinical trial.

Patients first have a scan of their eye socket to create a digital map of the area. Their good eye is also scanned to make sure it’s a perfect match.

The digital maps of the eye are then sent to Germany where they are created in two and a half hours by a 3D printing machine.

The results are sent back to London, where the hospital is putting the finishing touches and fitting the eye.

Doctors say this could cut patient waiting times in half.

Currently, it takes about six weeks for a patient to have an eye prosthesis.

Currently, it takes about six weeks for patients to get a new eye, which requires surgery on the eye socket and a two-hour molding session to make sure it fits.

They must also be present for several days at appointments where the denture is painted to match the others as closely as possible.

NHS patients often have to wait four to five months after surgery to have a prosthesis fitted. Currently the waiting times are longer.

However, doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital say the new technique could last as little as three weeks.

It involves a scan of the empty outlet so that software can create a map of the area.

The good eye is also scanned to make sure it’s a match.

The digital maps are then sent to Germany where they are produced by a 3D printer within two and a half hours.

This is sent back to the hospital which puts the finishing touches and then fits it on a patient.

Professor Mandeep Sagoo, a consultant ophthalmologist at the hospital, said: ‘We are excited about the potential for this fully digital prosthetic eye.

“We hope the upcoming clinical trial will provide us with robust evidence about the value of this new technology, showing what a difference it makes for patients.

“It clearly has the potential to reduce waiting lists.”

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