For many, the ability to see is taken for granted.
That ability to see relies on healthy eyes with healthy lenses. Our eyes contain two lenses, the cornea, and the lens. The cornea is, what some would call, the window to our souls.
The cornea allows light to enter our eyes and does about 75% of the focusing before an image hits the back of our eye. The lens then focuses the semi-focused light on the back of our retinas, allowing us to see clearly.
What if something happened to our cornea?
As the cornea is the outer layer of our eyes it might make you wonder, just how important is the cornea to sight, and what would happen to our vision if our cornea was damaged?
Well, the short of it is that a damaged cornea leads to blurry, fuzzy, milky, damaged vision.
For some, the ability to change the shape of their cornea through Lasik is life changing and shows just how important of a role that our corneas play in vision.
For others, a scrape or scar tissue can lead to partial, or even complete, blindness that is irreparable. For these patients, a cornea transplant is the only thing that will bring their vision back.
Cornea transplants can bring back vision.
The fact that we can even transplant a cornea from a donor body to a patient is amazing, but the demand for corneas far exceeds the supply of donor corneas.
Searching for a way to make the cornea tissue to go farther scientists are working on developing 3D printed corneas. These corneas would just a small number of stem cells from a donor cornea and a jelly-like concoction that could be printed into the proper shape.
This would allow a single donor cornea to supply up to 50 transplants.
HOW CAN YOU 3D PRINT A CORNEA?
To be honest, scientists aren't quite sure yet, but they are getting a lot closer.