Researchers create the first 3D-printed corneas to combat blindness

Researchers at the University Of Newcastle have announced they’ve managed to 3D print corneas – the outermost part of the human eye.

This is incredible, life-changing news for a lot of folks. Worldwide, 10 million people require surgery to prevent corneal blindness from diseases like trachoma. On top of this, almost 5 million are completely blind due to corneal scarring from accidents or illnesses.

This high-tech method of producing corneas could end all that.

It works by taking stem cells from a health donor’s cornea and mixing it together with a gel, creating what researchers have deemed “bio-ink.”

“Our unique gel – a combination of alginate and collagen – keeps the stem cells alive whilst producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape, but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer,” Che Connon, Professor of Tissue Engineering at The University of Newcastle, said.