The new discovery could help improve the vision of millions.
Human corneas are in short supply. Most of us with good eyesight don’t usually have to think about it-or learn about it- but it’s a reality.
According to researchers, 10 million people worldwide currently require surgery to prevent corneal blindness caused by disease and infection, and an additional 5 million are suffering from total blindness caused by scarring on their cornea.
Burns, lacerations, abrasions and disease can all cause it to happen.
The good news: that shortage may soon come to an end.
A team of researchers from Newcastle University in the UK just used 3D printing to make the first human corneas.
This is how they did it. Scientists took human corneal stromal cells from a healthy donor cornea. They mixed these with something called alginate and some collagen to create a bio-ink solution that could be printed. And then, they printed it, in concentric circles, just like a real eye.
Amazingly, it all took place using a 3D bio-printer, in less than 10 minutes.
Researchers say the work has to undergo further testing, and that it could be several years before these printed corneas are used for transplants, but they feel optimistic The new technology could definitely address the global shortage, improving the lives of scores who are now presently waiting.
As they say, the only thing worse than having no eyesight, is no vision.