Tiny 3D printed eye implant could treat diabetes

Researchers in Sweden have developed a small device for implantation in the eye

green brown eye
Pixabay/Bruno Henrique

Scientists from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institutet have described their efforts to develop a 3D printed eye implant.

The research, which was published in Advanced Materials, provides for the possibility of cell-based therapy – for example, for type 1 or type 2 diabetes – using the eye as a base. 

Senior lecturer at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Anna Herland, highlighted that the eye does not have immune cells that react unfavourably to the first stage of implantation.

The transparency of the eye also allows for study of what happens to the implant over time.

“The eye is our only window into the body, and it’s immune-privileged,” Herland said.

The device, which is 240 micrometers long, is designed to be fixed between the iris and the cornea in the anterior chamber of the eye.

In experiments in mice, the implant maintained its position for several months.

Herland shared that the research opens up the potential for more advanced device functions, such as integrated electronics or drug release.