Can 3D Printing Correct Color Blindness?
3D printing could now treat color blindness according to a study conducted by Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa University of Science and Technology (UK). Otherwise known as color vision deficiency, this condition is an inherited eye disorder in which one or more of the three types of cones in the eye retina, responsible for color perception, are deficient. The most common form is red-green color blindness, but there are also individuals who have problems with yellow-blue colors.
As you might know, additive manufacturing makes it possible to design objects of all kinds, including eyeglass frames for people with vision problems. However, until now this technology was only used for aesthetic purposes. Newly developed technologies however allow individuals who suffer from color blindness to correct this anomaly. Researchers from the earlier mentioned university have created lenses capable of improving the daily life of individuals affected by color blindness.
The 3D Printing Process To Correct Color Blindness
The team used a transparent resin mixed with two wavelength-filtering dyes to tint their 3D-printed lenses. The lenses were printed using Prusa’s SL1 printer. Volunteers tested the glasses, for both types of deficits, and found them to be beneficial, both in terms of comfort and vision improvement over commercially available corrective lenses for color blindness. For the frame, the research team used Solidworks software and SLS 3D printing to design glasses identical to those already on the market.
Prior to human testing, previous research on lens correction methods revealed that toxicity issues can arise when using dyes. With that in mind, the UK team took precautions by first examining the stability of their dyes. The 3D-printed glasses were stored in water for over a week and no dyes leaked during that time. Another test involved leaving the lenses in ambient conditions for an additional week. In the end, the lenses also proved to be durable and reliable over the long term.
Dr. Haider Butt, associate professor of mechanical engineering, who worked on the project, says, “Our results showed that 3D printing had no influence on the wavelength-filtering properties of the dyes,” In fact, the dyes remained unchanged as they were integrated with the resin and 3D printed. When we compared the optical performance of our glasses with commercial colorblind glasses, our results indicated that our 3D-printed glasses were more selective in filtering undesired wavelengths than the commercially available options. They have great potential in treating colorblindness, and their ease of fabrication and customization means they can be tailored to each individual patient.” You can find the original press release HERE.
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*Cover Photo Credits: Médocoptic