I-Corps: Three-Demensional Printing of a Customizable Accommodating Intraocular Lens

Project: Research project

Project Details


Cataract surgery is the most common surgery in the US, with an estimated 3 million per annum. The surgery involves the removal of the cloudy intraocular lens (IOL) due to a cataract growth that prevents patients from seeing clearly. While there has been advancement in instruments that remove the lens, there remains a great demand to improve replacement IOLs such that patients no longer require spectacles after surgery. The I-Corps team is working to commercialize a personalized intraocular lens manufactured utilizing platform three-dimensional (3D) printing technology. Developed by prominent Northwestern University engineering faculty, this patent pending technology can allow ophthalmologists to individually tailor for each patient a replacement lens that has been designed to bio-mimic the natural lens. This significant improvement has the potential to yield fewer surgical complications and eliminate the need for glasses after cataract surgery, improving patient satisfaction and quality of life. The target market will consist of ophthalmologists, providing them with cost-effective, customizable lenses that can dramatically improve lens performance and circumvent most side effects associated with competing products on the market. We aim to make personalized medicine a scalable reality, providing a higher performing IOL – with the optical and accommodating characteristics custom tailored to each patient’s unique eye anatomy – that is safe, cheap, and reliable.

Intellectual Merits The key merit of the proposed innovation comes from the fact that our platform technology incorporates the latest advances in 3D biomedical imaging reconstruction techniques combined with highly precise methods of 3D printing to personalize biomedical implants/devices for patients in a safe, affordable, and reliably way. One major inadequacy arises from the currently available IOLs on the market: due to anatomical differences between patients and variability in the patient’s reaction to existing IOLs, patients may suffer from presbyopia or difficulty focusing on close objects. Nearly 50% of cataract surgeries result in need for spectacles. We have provided an elegant solution to this issue by creating a higher performing intraocular lens, individually modeled after a patient’s unique eye anatomy, that improves eyesight after surgery and allows the patient’s eye to focus (accommodate) more like a natural lens.

Broader Impacts This technology has the potential to disrupt the design and production of medical implants. 3D printing represents a powerful new tool that can address many unresolved issues in healthcare. The ability to custom tailor patient specific lenses provides a novel method of delivering personalized healthcare. This has the potential to improve patient care and satisfaction, while reducing costs through reduced material expenses and fewer surgical complications.

In addition, as healthcare costs rise and reimbursements fall, there is a critical need for technology solutions to bridge this economic gap. Within a broader context, our technology represents a new wave of innovative tools that will help to lower healthcare costs while providing an improved standard of care for patients. Production of intraocular lens utilizing the 3D printing process can cut current manufacturing costs on the order of 5 – 6x, significantly reducing the cost to manufacturers, providers, and consumers. This represents a paradigm shift towards improved medicine through personalized care at a lower cost. The successful commercialization of this lens wil
Effective start/end date12/15/145/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (IIP-1519687)


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