Conventional prostheses for eye cancer patients who have had exenteration cost from $12,000 to $25,000, whereas those that are 3D printed cost about $500 and can be made much faster, said David Tse, MD, from the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. This is a huge savings for patients, because insurance doesn’t typically cover the cost of the prosthesis.
Dr Tse and his colleague, Landon Grace, PhD,from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, explained the process at the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2014 Annual Meeting in Chicago.Over 2700 new cases of eye cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. It is a disease that can strike at any age.
Exenteration is a life-saving surgery but it removes the contents of the eye socket and other tissue. “With this fairly mutilating procedure, you correct the patient’s functional problem — cancer — but you create a psychological problem for the patient. Making a prosthesis that looks close to the normal eye is the initial step in rehabilitation,” Dr Tse said.