In the Newcastle University, in UK, scientists printed the first real human corneas in 3D. It is amazing as these days it is very difficult to find available corneas that can be used for transplant. We hope that in future, this amazing printing technique might be used for having unlimited corneas supply.

The outermost layer of the human eye is called corneas and it is very important role for focusing vision. It some statistics it is shown that at the moment around 10 million people in the world need surgery in order to prevent corneal blindness, which can develop because of certain diseases including trachoma which is an infectious eye disorder. Additionally, 5 million people have problems with blindness because of corneal scarring which is caused by lacerations, disease, burns and abrasion.

Che Connon, a professor of Tissue Engineering at the Newcastle University, the person who was the lead for this work, stated that a lot of teams in the world tried to find the bio-ink so they can actually make this process feasible. He said that their unique gel – which was a combination of collagen and alginate kept the stem cells alive and at the same time they produced a material that is stiff enough so it can hold the shape, yet soft enough so it can be squeezed out the 3D printer’s nozzle. All of this builds upon their previous work when they kept the cells alive for few weeks at a room temperature in a similar hydrogel. At this point they have a bio-ink which is ready to use that and it contains stem cells which will allows the users to start printing tissues and they would not have to worry about a separate cells growth.

He also said that their 3D printed corneas will be additionally tested and it would take couple of years before they can actually use them for transplants. However, they showed that printing corneas using coordinates from a patient eye is feasible and it is an amazing approach which has potential to fight the shortage that has been a worldwide problem.

The study showed that in order to make a cornea that can match the unique specifications of a patient; one should first scan their eyes and use the data for printing a cornea that will match its shape and size.

These artificial corneas might help people to restore their eyesight. Millions of partially blind or blind people will have their sight back and that is something unbelievable amazing. We’ll have to see this miracle happen.