A team of researchers have successfully 3D-printed an artificial cornea and transplanted it into a rabbit eye for the first time in the country.

Researchers from L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH), and the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, have collaborated to develop a 3D-printed cornea from the human donor corneal tissue. 

Developed indigenously through government and philanthropic funding, the product is entirely natural and contains no synthetic components,

It is free of animal residues and is ‘safe' to use in patients.

“This can be a ground-breaking and disruptive innovation in treating diseases like corneal scarring (where the cornea becomes opaque) or Keratoconus (where the cornea gradually becomes thin with time), Sayan Basu and Vivek Singh, lead researchers from LVPEI, said in a release.”

It is a made-in-India product by an Indian clinician-scientist team and the first 3-D printed human cornea that is optically and physically suitable for transplantation.

“The bio-ink used to make this 3D printed cornea can be sight-saving for army personnel at the site of injury to seal the corneal perforation and prevent infection during war-related injuries or in a remote area with no tertiary eye care facility,” the release said.

The cornea is the clear front layer of the eye that helps focus light and aids in clear vision. Corneal damage is a leading cause of blindness worldwide, with more than 1.5 million new cases of corneal blindness reported every year.