Jan 9, 2016 | By Tess

Losing one’s eyesight is something that in the Western world can be quite easily remedied by a visit to the eye doctor. In developing countries, however, having access to optical examinations and care can be more difficult, and for some less enfranchised people, virtually impossible. In an effort to make eye examinations more accessible, one New Zealand based eye doctor, Hong Sheng Chiong has developed 3D printed eye testing tools that can easily be used with a smartphone camera and an app.

Typically, the tools necessary for eye examinations, such as slit lens microscopes and fundus cameras, are extremely expensive, costing eye care centers several tens of thousands of dollars. Realizing this, Chiong, a junior eye doctor at the Dunedin Hospital in Dunedin, New Zealand, recently founded oDocs Eye Care, a group that specializes in creating and offering open source, 3D printable eye related medical equipment.

“I believe sight is one of the most important sensory perceptions. It’s one of those senses that if you lose it, it's going to affect your independence, your work, your confidence and your self-esteem,” says Chiong.

So far oDocs has released a smartphone retinal imaging adapter and an anterior segment adapter, which can be easily made using a 3D printer and special lenses. The inexpensive 3D printed tools are comparable to professional medical equipment and are capable of having a 40 degree field of view with ten times magnification.

To use the equipment, you simply have to assemble the 3D printed parts and lenses using a few nuts and bolts and then attach them to your smartphone, which is equipped with the oDocs Eye app. Because of the use of the tools, Chiong does emphasize that having a relatively high quality and accurate 3D printer is important, to print his own prototypes he used the Ultimaker 2+, which was able to print the parts in just over 4 hours. In total, the 3D printed eye care tools should not cost over $50, making them much more accessible for doctors working in less developed regions.

oDocs, which was first started in 2014 has gone on to win several accolades and New Zealand based innovation awards, but Chiong and his team continue to work for the results that they have seen. “It’s like volunteering to help someone,” explains Chiong. “And what you get from that is seeing the person you helped triumph, or just as simple as that person saying thank you or smile back at you. That’s what really gives me the motivation to keep working.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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