Stereolithographic Rapid Prototyping of Clear, Foldable, Non-Refractive Intraocular Lens Designs: A Proof-of-Concept Study

Curr Eye Res. 2024 Aug;49(8):843-852. doi: 10.1080/02713683.2024.2344164. Epub 2024 May 19.


Purpose: A cataract is a cloudy area in the crystalline lens. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and the second cause of severe vision impairment worldwide. During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is extracted and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens, which restores the optical power. The fabrication of intraocular lenses using existing molding and lathing techniques is a complex and time-consuming process that limits the development of novel materials and designs. To overcome these limitations, we have developed a stereolithography-based process for producing models of clear lens designs without refractive function, serving as a proof of concept. This process has the potential to contribute toward new lens development, allowing for unlimited design iterations and an expanded range of materials for scientists to explore.

Methods: Lens-like 3D objects without refractive function were fabricated by using stereolithography. A photopolymerizable resin containing 2-phenoxyethyl acrylate, poly (ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate, and a suitable photoinitiator was developed for the production of lens-like 3D object prototypes. The morphology of the printed devices was characterized by scanning electron microscopy. The transparency and thermal properties were analyzed using spectrophotometry and differential scanning calorimetry, respectively. The biocompatibility of the devices was investigated in a cultured human lens cell line (FHL-124), using a standard lactate dehydrogenase assay, and the lenses were folded and implanted in the human capsular bag model.

Results: One-piece lens-like 3D objects without refractive function and with loop-haptic design were successfully fabricated using Stereolithography (SLA) technique. The resulting 3D objects were transparent, as determined by UV spectroscopy. The lactate dehydrogenase test demonstrated the tolerance of lens cells to the prototyping material, and apparent foldability and shape recovery was observed during direct injection into a human capsular bag model in vitro.

Conclusions: This proof-of-principle study demonstrated the potential and significance of the rapid prototyping process for research and development of lens-like 3D object prototypes, such as intraocular lenses.

Keywords: 3D printing of intraocular lenses; Cataract; intraocular lens; optics; refractive surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Cataract
  • Humans
  • Lenses, Intraocular*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Proof of Concept Study*
  • Prosthesis Design*
  • Refraction, Ocular / physiology
  • Stereolithography*