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New Hope To Eye Cancer Patients With 3D Printing Facial Scanning Software

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 2,700 new cases of eye cancer are diagnosed annually in the United States. The mortality rate on this disease is very high. There is a life-saving surgery that some patients undergo called exenteration that removes the contents of the eye socket and all other tissue.

A research team has been able to develop an inexpensive and fast way to make facial protheses using 3D printing and a facial scanning software. Their findings were released at the 118th annual meeting of the AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) 2014. Eye cancer patients would be provided with a more affordable facial prothesis and would be able to live a more full life.

Right now the protheses that are available take weeks to produce and cost $10,000 to $15,000. They have to be created by a ocularist who makes a mold of the face, casts it using rubber and adds individual eyelashes and skin color. Health insurance often will not pay for this so patients have to pay out-of-pocket.

A process was developed by the University of Miami using topographical scanning and a 3D printing technology that could be accomplished in a matter of hours at a fraction of the cost of the traditional prosthesis. By scanning the undamaged side of the patient's face using a mobile scanner the software creates a mirror image. With a scan of the side of side of the face with the orbital defect also the program can mesh the two scans together to make a 3D image of the face. Data translated from the topographical information goes to a 3D printer and a mask is formed from injection-molded rubber infused with colored pigments that match the patient's skin tone.

The doctor was treating a child with eye cancer who had both eyelids removed and also went through the exenteration procedure. Because the family could not afford the ocularist Dr. Tse raised donations that helped to pay for her first prosthesis. She is now a teenager, has out grown the prosthesis, and now wears an eye patch.

"Hopefully, using this quick and less expensive 3D printing process, we can make an affordable facial prosthesis for her and also help thousands of other people like her who lack the resources to obtain one through an ocularist," said Dr. David Tse, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Florida. The project is his brain child and he is also Nasser Ibrahaim Al-Rashid chair in ophthalmic plastic, orbital surgery and oncology.

This new 3D printed prosthesis was developed and designed in partnership with a team at the Composite Materials Lab at the University of Miami and Dr. Tse. Overtime the conventional facial prosthesis created by the ocularist can discolor and even fray at the edges. The nanoclay protects the material from changing color and breaking down when it is exposed to light or moisture. If it ever needs to be replaced it can happen with just the press of a button.

Director of the lab and an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, Landon Grace, says of the new prosthesis, " Once we have a patient scanned, we have the mold, so we can create a new prosthesis in no time. Our long-term goal is to help patients anywhere in the world. We could get a mobile scan, download the data in Miami, print out the prosthesis and ship it back to the patient the next day."

celticeagle

About celticeagle

Have written online for more than eight years now on many subjects. Also write under the username of Eve Sherrill York.

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